Schumer: Call off GOP-only ‘sham briefing’ on FBI informant
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Thursday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) should cancel its Republican-only briefing on a controversial FBI informant, adding that White House chief of staff John Kelly should skip the meetings.
“Our preference would still be for the Justice Department to cancel the briefing today. But if it goes forward, there should be one briefing and one briefing only, the bipartisan Gang of Eight,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.
FBI, Justice Department and intelligence officials are scheduled to hold two briefings with lawmakers on Thursday about a controversial FBI informant who has emerged as a lightning rod in the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
The first meeting will include Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and GOP Reps. Trey Gowdy (S.C.) and Devin Nunes (Calif.).
The second meeting, thrown together amid intense pressure from lawmakers, is expected to include Gowdy and members of the Gang of Eight, which is composed of both parties’ leadership in the House and Senate and the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees.
But the dueling meetings fall short of a demand from Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). The two sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein requesting that if any meeting had to take place, it should be a Gang of Eight briefing in lieu of the Gowdy–Nunes meeting.
“What is the point of a separate briefing if not to cause partisan trouble and create a he-said-she-said scenario?” Schumer asked on Thursday. “Rep. Nunes, the architect of this same briefing, no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt. He lost all claims to objectivity long ago.”
Schumer added that Nunes, a vocal backer of Trump, has “relentlessly harassed the Justice Department to reveal sources and methods to him for the sole purpose of interfering with and denigrating the special counsel’s investigation.”
In addition to DOJ and FBI officials, Kelly is expected to attend both briefings on Thursday. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had previously said that while he was responsible for organizing the meetings, he would not attend them.
Schumer called Kelly’s attendance “wholly inappropriate” and urged the president’s chief of staff to skip both of the meetings.
“The White House should never be allowed to interfere in an ongoing DOJ investigation, but it’s absolutely beyond the pale that they’re interfering in an investigation involving the president and his campaign,” Schumer added.
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