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McConnell on classified intel scandal: “we could do with a little less drama from the White House”

Senate Lawmakers Address The Media After Their Weekly Policy Luncheons Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Washington Post’s bombshell report that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified intelligence to the Russian foreign minister during his visit last week is a lot of “drama,” according Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

And Congress could do with “less drama” from the White House, McConnell said on Bloomberg TV Tuesday morning:

“I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda, which is deregulations, tax reform, and repeal and replacing Obamacare.”

McConnell cited having read both the Washington Post’s report and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s response, which he said “tends to refute the story.” Like many congressional Republicans, McConnell didn’t run to Trump’s side — but didn’t outright criticize the president either.

On Tuesday morning, Trump himself tweeted a near confirmation to the Post’s report.

“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,” Trump tweeted. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism ... to terrorism and airline flight safety.”

But Republican lawmakers have fallen into the same pattern as with past Trump scandals. While some have expressed “concern” about the report, most have kept their cards close, calling for more information on the allegations.

By late Monday night, no GOP leaders in the House or Senate had released statements supporting Trump after the disclosure, which was confirmed by multiple other media outlets. House Speaker Paul Ryan expressed hope, through a spokesperson, for a “full explanation” from the administration as to what had happened.

Instead, many seem to be framing this latest installment of White House drama as yet another distraction from an already packed Republican legislative agenda. Last week, Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey delayed hearings and set back the timeline for pushing through policy, an aide to Sen. Jeff Flake told us.

Sen. John McCain, who on Tuesday called the reports of Trump’s intelligence leak “disturbing,” also noted how the chaos in the White House has slowed down the Republican Party. “I have about 20 different items, ranging from a defense authorization bill to sequestration to tax reform — a large agenda.”

From McConnell’s statement, it appears the brunt of Republican leadership’s “concern” revolves more around how these news events keep postponing their agenda than the possible threat to national security.

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