“I would, in general, describe it as bureaucratic jargon,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a member the Homeland Security Committee. He spoke to reporters after leaving the basement of Capitol Hill, where senators had been briefed on dozens of classified Defense Department documents that had leaked online.
When asked about the briefing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) used a more scathing tone.
He said, “It is just a s—show.”
He added, “I did not get a good explanation as to how this could have happened.” “I am just as confused as I was prior to the briefing.”
A Senate aide said that the briefers on Wednesday included Avril Hines, Director of National Intelligence, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, Ronald Moultrie, Under Secretary of Defense, Intelligence & Security; Vice Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Christopher Grady; and Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary of States.
The briefing was scheduled for Wednesday, but federal authorities have arrested Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira in connection with an investigation into classified files that were leaked online.
The classified Defense Department files that appeared first onlinelast week revealed details about the United States spying against Russia’s war machines in Ukraine and confidential evaluations of Ukraine’s combat power.
NBC News has obtained over 50 documents that were leaked, including many classified as “Top Secret”, the highest classification.
Mark Warner, D.-Va.’s Senate Intelligence Committee chair, told NBC News in an interview before the briefing that he was expecting to receive answers about the date the intelligence community learned of the leak. He also wanted to know when the documents first appeared on the Internet.
Some of Warner’s Democratic colleagues claimed that the briefing did not meet their expectations.
Richard Blumenthal, a Democratic senator from Connecticut and member of Homeland Security panel, told reporters, “I am deeply unsatisfied.” “My impression after that meeting was too many people had too much access without safeguards or barriers to information.”
Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested that despite senators’ frustrations with the administration, officials take “very, seriously” the issue of leaks of intelligence information.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) added that officials in the administration were “very worried about what happened, and they are working.”
Plusieurs lawmakers stated that the leaks made it necessary to examine reforms which could prevent future intelligence being revealed publicly.
I think that we need more information, and than we have now.
When asked if the access to classified data should be curtailed, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) responded: “I think that there is a very strong case for it.”
The senators’ frustration was not the only time they expressed themselves after a meeting behind closed doors with Haines.
In January, lawmakers expressed concern about the government’s labeling and tracking system for thousands of classified files after Haines refused them to show copies of classified papers found in Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and Joe Biden’s former Washington office and Delaware residence. Select Senate and House members have been given access to these documents.