Senate

Dem senator: House Intel chairman may have revealed classified info

Greg Nash

A Democratic senator said Wednesday that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) might have leaked classified information when telling reporters about incidentally collected information on members of President Trump’s transition team.

“Rep. Nunes’s statements would appear to be revealing classified information and that obviously would be a very serious concern,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told reporters about Nunes’ press conference.

Wyden, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, added that “with respect to the substance of the claim, I don’t have any idea what he is talking about.”

Nunes grabbed headlines when he told reporters earlier Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence community incidentally collected information on members of Trump’s transition team and the information was “widely disseminated” in intelligence reports.

The GOP chairman told reporters that the information was “legally brought to him by sources who thought we should know it,” but declined to provide further detail.

The California Republican also said he would brief the president on his findings, which Wyden quipped didn’t meet the “textbook definition” of congressional oversight since lawmakers are investigating any potential contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The House Intelligence chairman appeared to catch lawmakers off guard with his announcement.

Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, criticized Nunes for meeting privately with Trump at the White House on Wednesday while separately saying that “this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Schiff’s counterpart on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters that he was going back to his office “to figure out what the heck is going on.”

“You would think if that was the case there would be — unless he is divulging some kind of confidential information only he has — I have not been briefed on this yet,” he added.

Warner noted that the Russia investigation was the “most serious” investigation he had been involved with, before spotting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and pivoting, joking to reporters: “I know Marco Rubio wouldn’t have done it.”

“You hear what Nunes did?” Warner asked Rubio, leading a pack of reporters across the Senate basement and over to the Florida Republican.

“Was that in the news or are you just making — are you just announcing something?” Rubio asked Warner after the Democratic senator described Nunes’s comments to him.

When Warner assured him that he hadn’t made it up, Rubio joked that “it’s fake news, man,” while winking at reporters.

Both GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) told reporters that they had only seen news headlines about Nunes’s comments and wanted to look into it.

“If we’re surveilling a foreign agent, which we should be doing if there’s reason to believe they’re a foreign agent, and there’s incidental contact then that’s not surveilling the Trump campaign,” Graham said.

“I don’t know what he’s saying,” Graham added. “I would like to know more about what he’s saying, but incidental collection is not equivalent to government-directed surveillance of an American citizen.” 

Tags Adam Schiff John McCain Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Mark Warner Ron Wyden

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