May 16, 2017

Sen. Toomey calls for 'serious changes at White House' after classified info gaffe

Sen. Pat Toomey seems to be joining other GOP leaders in the call for "serious changes" at the White House, a day after it was found that President Donald Trump divulged classified intelligence to Russian officials.

The Republican senator from Pennsylvania, who called the timing of Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey "unfortunate" last week, was quoted in the New York Times on Tuesday as one of the Republican senators "growing alarmed by and impatient with ... Trump's White House operation," as well as one of the politicians who would like to see a Democrat as Comey's replacement.

“There need to be serious changes at the White House, immediately,” he said, according to a story on the newspaper's website.

Toomey, who has been under fire himself recently for what critics says is his unresponsiveness to constituents' requests for an in-person town hall meeting, told reporters Tuesday morning that Trump's move "could be a very imprudent decision," though not illegal.

"I want to find out what happened before I come to a conclusion," he said at the time, according to Philly.com.

Toomey later explained. 

“Russia is not a friend to the United States, and protecting our country’s classified information from our adversaries is essential," he said in a statement provided to PhillyVoice by staff at Toomey's Washington, D.C. office. 

It's not clear what "changes" Toomey was referring to on Tuesday, though there's talk of Trump lecturing his communication team to "get on the same page" with reports of an impending major staff shakeup.

Steve Kelly, a spokesperson for the senator, confirmed the Times report Tuesday afternoon. 

"Senator Toomey does believe that changes are needed at the White House and he believes that a Democrat should be nominated to head up the FBI, such as Merrick Garland," he said in a statement. 

Toomey first suggested that Trump pick Garland, judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and former prosecutor for the Department of Justice, in a radio interview on Friday

Toomey's not the only one wanting reform of some kind – other GOP leaders, including Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee – have been calling on the White House to change. Corker called what's happening in the White House a "downward spiral."

Arizona Sen. John McCain called WaPo's report "deeply disturbing."

On Monday afternoon, the Washington Post broke the story that Trump revealed classified information about ISIS militants during a meeting with Russian officials last week that took place just after Comey's dismissal. 

H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser who grew up in the Roxborough neighborhood of Philadelphia, said the exchange "didn't happen" on Monday.

"The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation," McMaster said. "At no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known."

Comey, who led the investigation to find ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, was abruptly fired last Tuesday.

Trump officials first said that the dismissal was due to Comey's handling of the investigation into presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's emails, but later said that the president considered firing Comey since Election Day in November. 

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