Republicans call for inquiry into House Intel panel's Russia investigation leaks

Republicans call for inquiry into House Intel panel's Russia investigation leaks
© Greg Nash

Republicans are calling on lawmakers to open an inquiry into the House Intelligence Committee after members of the press received "privileged information" that was leaked from a closed-door interview earlier this month with the president's oldest son.

Reps. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeOvernight Cybersecurity: DHS chief eyes new ways to bolster cyber workforce | Dems grill Diamond and Silk | Senate panel approves bill to protect Mueller | Two-thirds of agencies using email fraud tool DHS chief on unfilled cybersecurity positions: We’re working on it Congress must act soon to protect high-risk facilities MORE (R-Texas), Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinTrump floats cutting foreign aid when criminal illegal immigrants enter US WATCH: NY Republican wants McCabe prosecuted WATCH: GOP lawmaker sees “great potential” in briefing on FBI informant MORE (R-N.Y.) and Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveYoung GOP lawmakers push for fresh approach Utah redistricting reform measure likely to qualify for ballot Tensions on immigration erupt in the House GOP MORE (R-Utah) sent a letter on Monday to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDon't let them fool you — Republicans love regulation, too Senate harassment bill runs into opposition from House The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — The art of walking away from the deal MORE (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiElection fears recede for House Republicans Senate harassment bill runs into opposition from House 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? MORE (D-Calif.) urging them to investigate the leaks. Their request comes one week after Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr.: Instagram warning says my name 'encourages' harmful behavior Trump resort in Scotland pays women less than men: report Dem senator: Trump Jr. may have given 'false testimony' about meeting with foreign nationals MORE asked the House Intelligence panel to investigate how information from his meeting on Dec. 6 made it into the hands of the press.

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In their letter, the Republican lawmakers urged House leaders to remove any member of the Intelligence panel found to have violated committee rules, while also advocating for "appropriate disciplinary action" for staff members found leaking such information.

“Significant evidence that serious leaks have occurred in relation to the [House Intelligence Committee] investigation into alleged Russian meddling of the 2016 election must be immediately addressed," the trio said in a statement.

"Members or staff who may have violated rules by leaking sensitive information to the press or other outside entities must be promptly removed from this investigation and proper inquiries undertaken without delay,” they urged, while underscoring the importance of the committee's "integrity" being preserved.

Other Republicans echoed the GOP lawmakers' calls for a formal inquiry.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Washington braces for another tumultuous week Republicans are set to defy history Against a GOP this strong, ‘resistance’ is not a winning strategy MORE on Monday also called on Congress to investigate the leaks.

Trump Jr.'s lawyer Alan Futerfas sent a letter last week to Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who has been leading the panel's ongoing investigation into Russian interference.

The attorney accused members of the committee of “selectively leaking information provided during the interview to various press outlets, most notably CNN," citing tweets from CNN reporter Manu Raju and a story that came out during the meeting as evidence of leaking, New York Magazine reported.

Futerfas said Trump Jr. had received assurances that the interview “would be kept strictly confidential and not discussed publicly unless and until the full committee voted to release the transcript,” according to the report.

The attorney pointed to the public remarks of Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff on Trump's 'spygate' claims: He is asserting an imagined world is real Trump: ‘Spy’ was placed in campaign ‘way earlier than the Russian Hoax' The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — The art of walking away from the deal MORE (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, and two other Democratic lawmakers as evidence that they breached this agreement.

Schiff had told a scrum of reporters after the eight-hour meeting concluded that Trump Jr. declined to tell the committee details about his conversation with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE Judge rejects Manafort's attempt to throw out some charges Dem: Trump’s policy of separating children, parents at border ‘would shock Jesus’ MORE regarding his 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, citing client privilege. Schiff argued that Trump Jr. cannot apply attorney-client privilege and "shield" lawmakers from his conversation between father and son just because an attorney was present in the room at the time.

Futerfas also pointed to the TV appearances of Reps. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierSenate harassment bill runs into opposition from House Lawmakers push for House floor debate on war authorization Overnight Defense: Over 500 amendments proposed for defense bill | Measures address transgender troops, Yemen war | Trump taps acting VA chief as permanent secretary MORE (D-Calif.) and Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellWATCH: Trump “spygate” is effort to “undermine a lawful investigation,” Dem Rep says What's wrong with the Democratic Party? Just look at California Washington governor to make Iowa debut MORE (D-Calif.), arguing that their public remarks were “an attempt to discredit” Trump Jr.

A spokesman for Schiff, Patrick Boland, told The New York Times in a statement last week that the top Democrat had a right to talk about  the “noncooperation” of a witness, while denying that Schiff or or his staff had leaked any such information.