The White House national security team, already facing calls for the ouster of top adviser H.R. McMaster, was tagged by a key lawmaker with leaking confidential notes ordering President Trump not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin for his election win.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a conservative leader and foreign policy expert, expressed outrage at the leak and suggested that it and others thought to come from the national security council are crimes.
“Here’s the big deal. If you’ve got the national security council team leaking to the press, that’s a big deal,” he told reporters at a Heritage Foundation-sponsored “Conversations with Conservatives” on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
“Quite frankly, some of the other stuff they’ve leaked is actually a crime,” he added.
The Washington Post reported that Trump was pressured by top aides against calling Putin. He was even given a paper that read in all caps,“DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”
Trump called anyway.
Washington Examiner‘s White House correspondent Gabby Morrongiello reported earlier Wednesday that the president is angered at the leak.
Meadows said that since it dealt with a foreign leader, the leak “had to” come from the president’s national security staff, headed by McMaster.
McMaster has been under fire inside and outside the White House, and there have been reports that he will be dumped. But every time a report surfaces, the administration denies it.
Meadows shrugged off the call, and said that there is no evidence it will impact U.S.-Russia policy. He also noted that former President Barack Obama called foreign leaders approved in questionable elections.
“I’m probably more concerned about leaks within the administration. You have to understand that it would be like my chief of staff leaking information that we had in a conversation on anything. Whether it’s [Trump’s call] appropriate or not appropriate, there’s a bigger concern there within the West Wing if you’ve got people on the national security team that have leaked. That’s where it had to have come from. It’s a very small group of people that would of even had any knowledge of that,” he said.