A Democratic lawmaker introduced legislation in the House on Wednesday to keep Congress informed when top-secret information is shared with a nation considered hostile to the U.S. following President Trump's meeting with Russian officials this month.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s (D-Fla.) bill would require the president to notify the House and Senate intelligence committees if a U.S. official — including the president — intentionally or accidentally shares top-secret information with countries that are deemed state sponsors of terrorism or are subject to U.S. sanctions.
Keeping Congress in the loop would help lawmakers conduct oversight and try to mitigate any damage, Murphy argued.
“My bill would simply provide Congress with the same information that was made available to other nations,” she said on the House floor.
The Washington Post reported this month that Trump shared closely guarded intelligence about an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) plot with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in the Oval Office.
The intelligence was considered so sensitive it had not even been shared with U.S. allies, and the source country had not given authorization to disclose it, according to the report.
Trump has maintained he was justified in sharing "facts" with the Russian officials. Presidents have broad authority to declassify state secrets, though for most other government officials sharing classified secrets with an adversary would be illegal.
“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” Trump tweeted earlier this month.
Subsequent reports indicated that Israel had provided the intelligence that Trump shared. After a private meeting this week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump insisted he “never mentioned the word or the name Israel” in the meeting with Russians.
However, reports never alleged that Trump specifically revealed Israel as the source, but instead said that he revealed details such as the name of the city where the alleged plot was forming. Trump's disclosure reportedly angered Israeli intelligence officials.
White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters last week that Trump wasn’t aware of where the intelligence originated.
"The president isn't even aware of where this information came from," McMaster said.