Republicans and Democrats denounced government leaking this week after transcripts of President Donald Trump’s calls with foreign leaders was exposed by the Washington Post.
The rejection of leaks comes as Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected Friday to a Justice Department investigation into leaks coming out of the government.
Trump has been railing against the leaks coming out of his administration for weeks as a stream of unflattering stories has embarrassed the White House. Some of those stories are based on anonymously sourced but unclassified gossip about infighting among his aides, while others are more serious leaks of information about the ongoing probe into his campaign’s relationship with Russia or his dealings with foreign leaders.
Republicans have typically been quick to draw attention to the leak problem throughout the Russia investigation, while Democrats have generally focused on questions about whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia’s attempts to meddle in the election last year. But a leak on Thursday prompted lawmakers from both parties to speak out and raise their concern.
The Washington Post published the transcripts of Trump’s tense calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia, embarrassing the White House because at times Trump seemed not to grasp policy basics and appeared to downplay his campaign promises.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Friday warned that the disclosure could jeopardize national security.
“What really should concern everyone are these leaks that imperil national security,” she said on the Fox News morning program “Fox and Friends.” “Leaking the phone calls between our president and other heads of state is nothing short of a national disgrace.”
But the White House is not alone in condemning the leak. While many Trump critics were quick to express their dismay at the content of the exchanges on Thursday, some Democrats joined in to warn that leaking a transcript of conversations between the president and other world leaders is dangerous and a bad precedent.
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the Daily Beast on Thursday that Congress should investigate the leak.
“A president of the United States, a governor would tell us they’ve got to be able to have confidential conversations,” Warner said. “And I think it was disgraceful that those [came out].”
David Frum, a former aide in the George W. Bush White House and a consistent Trump critic at The Atlantic, wrote a column decrying the leak as “unprecedented, shocking, and dangerous” and warned that it “will reverberate around the world.”
“No leader will again speak candidly on the phone to Washington, D.C.—at least for the duration of this presidency, and perhaps for longer,” Frum wrote. “If these calls can be leaked, any call can be leaked—and no leader dare say anything to the president of the United States that he or she would not wish to read in the news at home.”
Tommy Vietor, a former spokesperson for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, also called the leak “absurd.”
“I would’ve lost my mind if transcripts of Obama’s calls to foreign leaders leaked,” Vietor, who co-hosts the popular liberal podcast “Pod Save America,” said on Twitter. “He wouldn’t have sounded so dumb, but it’s still absurd.”
Added former Obama adviser David Axelrod: “Transcripts of @POTUS calls w/leaders of Mexico; Australia were embarrassing. Yet the leaking of them feels like a terrible precedent.”