President Trump should purge the White House of anyone leaking information to the press, senior Senate Republicans said Thursday.
"These people should be fired," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker told reporters during a press conference Thursday. "They should be out of government. They're disloyal to our government."
That condemnation came in the wake of the leak of transcripts of Trump's conversations with two foreign leaders. The unprecedented publication of the conversations, typically among the most closely held government records, rocked officials in Washington.
"The person who did this may think they have a noble outcome in mind, but that is just chaos," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., added. "I hope we find out who the person is and they get punished."
Even former President Barack Obama's team agreed. "I would've lost my mind if transcripts of Obama's calls to foreign leaders leaked," Tommy Vietor, a former spokesman for the National Security Council, tweeted Thursday. "We need to protect the president's ability to have private calls."
Trump has long complained about leaks that embarrass his administration, particularly those pertaining to the Russia investigation, but the release of the transcripts startled even his foreign policy critics.
"Even worse than content of [two presidential] phone calls is [the] fact they were leaked, which works against future ability to hold necessary sensitive talks," Richard Haass, who served as a diplomat in George W. Bush's administration, tweeted Thursday.
That sentiment was echoed by David Frum, a fierce critic of Trump who also worked in the Bush administration. "Leaking the transcript of a presidential call to a foreign leader is unprecedented, shocking, and dangerous," Frum, now a senior editor at The Atlantic who has called for Trump to resign, wrote Thursday. "It is vitally important that a president be able to speak confidentially — and perhaps even more important that foreign leaders understand that they can reply in confidence."
Corker said that new White House chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general who most recently served as Trump's homeland security secretary, should take a liberal approach to ousting leakers.
"Fire every single person that has had anything whatsoever to do with backbiting, undermining other people for their own benefit, and leaking," Corker said. "And [don't] be cautious about it. If there's even a thought that somebody as involved, get rid of them."