President Donald Trump "didn't do anything illegal" by speaking with Russian officials about ISIS or other matters during a meeting in the Oval Office, but he should run anything sensitive he intends to tell foreign leaders "through the system" before he speaks, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday.
"When it comes to Russia, they're an unreliable partner," the South Carolina Republican told Fox News. "I would [only] cautiously share anything with the Russians. Anything you give the Russians you have to assume the worst, not the best."
Clearly, Trump didn't do anything illegal, said Graham, but he should remember that the Russians have a different viewpoint than the United States does.
"In our view, the only good ISIL fighter is a dead ISIL fighter," said Graham. "In Russia, sometimes they want to fight them and sometimes they don't."
There was an effort by the Obama administration to share intelligence with Russia concerning air targets, said Graham, but he and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., "pushed back hard" on that.
"We pushed back believing that anything you gave the Russians would wind up in [Bashar al-] Assad's hands," said Graham. "The Russians clearly have a pattern of siding with whatever terrorist group they need to side with to get their objective. I don't think their objective in Syria is the same as ours."
Graham said he does not think Trump did anything wrong, but he also does not know if The Washington Post's reports that the president shared highly classified material with the Russian officials is true or not.
"I would caution the president when you share information with Russia, that it will likely wind up in the wrong hands," said Graham.
Meanwhile, the senator said he has never seen so many leaks coming from the White House, including the leak leading to the story about Trump's closed-door conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
"People are taking the law in their own hands," said Graham. "You may not like the president and what he is doing but it is a crime to take classified information and this whole idea I'm justified because I think there is a greater good destroys the rule of law.
"So those who feel a need to share classified information to get back at Trump, we need to find who those people are and punish them."
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