WASHINGTON — The White House says it’s a “fireable offense and likely illegal” to leak President Trump’s briefing papers.

The warning came after news outlets reported that aides had included a warning in Trump’s briefing papers advising him not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election win, but he did so anyway.

The White House said in an official statement Wednesday: “If this story is accurate, that means someone leaked the President’s briefing papers. Leaking such information is a fireable offense and likely illegal.”

The White House wouldn’t confirm that Trump was warned “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” Putin, as a senior administration official told the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

It was unclear whether Trump read the talking points prepared by his national security team before Tuesday’s call. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster briefed the president in person before the call.

Some Republican lawmakers criticized Trump for congratulating Putin on his re-election.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona said, “An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.” McCain’s Arizona colleague, Sen. Jeff Flake, labeled Trump’s congratulatory call “odd” while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said calling Putin “wouldn’t have been high on my list.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders noted that President Obama made a similar call at the time of Putin’s last electoral victory. Huckabee said, “We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate.”

In the call Trump didn’t raise Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections or its suspected involvement in the poisoning of a former spy in Britain.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.