By Jeremy Herb - 06/13/12 05:44 PM EDT
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was wrong to accuse President Obama of hypocrisy for opposing a special counsel to investigate recent national security leaks.
“Senator McCain has his way of saying things,” Feinstein told reporters. “He’s a United States senator — he can certainly say what he wants. I don’t happen to agree with that.”
“The thing that worriers me is to spend time fighting over this makes no sense,” she said. “I don’t understand why there needs to be a break with the administration on this point. We all want the same thing. We want to know what leaks were there, who leaked, what was the effect of it and what is the culpability.”
McCain on Tuesday said it was the “height of hypocrisy” for Obama to oppose a special counsel when Obama called for independent investigations of the Valerie Plame and Jack Abramoff scandals during the George W. Bush administration.
McCain has introduced a nonbinding resolution demanding a special counsel to investigate the leaks.
Feinstein, who also joined the letter in 2006 from Democrats urging the Bush administration to appoint a special counsel for the Abramoff investigation, said Wednesday that she opposed McCain’s resolution because a special counsel would take too long to set up to investigate the leaks and the two U.S. attorneys appointed will work “more rapidly.”
She and other Democrats have said that they believe the two U.S. attorneys Attorney General Eric Holder appointed to investigate the leaks, D.C.’s Ronald Machen and Maryland’s Rod Rosenstein, will operate independently and fairly.
Shining some light on the structure of the investigation, Feinstein said that one U.S. attorney was focusing on the Yemeni leaks and other was examining the Iranian cyberattack.
“Everything I know about these two United States attorneys, one from Maryland and one from Washington, indicates that they’re independent, that they’re going to call the shots as they see them,” Feinstein said.
But Republicans have argued that the Justice Department investigation won't be independent, as it investigates the Obama administration and potentially officials at the department. They’ve taken particular aim at Holder, whom GOP senators hammered for refusing to appoint a special counsel at a hearing on Tuesday.
Citing the special counsel rejection, the "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking case and other events, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called on Holder to resign.
Republicans have also questioned one of the attorneys chosen, Machen, because he was a contributor to Obama’s presidential and Senate campaigns. Machen gave $4,350 to Obama, all of which came before he was appointed as a U.S. attorney.
Feinstein on Wednesday rejected the charge that Machen can't be independent because he was an Obama contributor.
“First of all there are so many contributions, one little contribution isn’t going to make that kind of difference anyway, in the millions of campaign contributions that a candidate for president gets,” Feinstein said.