Senior lawmakers feeling 'left out' after news of Israeli spying

Senior lawmakers are sharing a similar response to a report that Israel spied on U.S.-Iran nuclear talks and slipped intelligence to Congress: Don't look at me.


“I haven’t had any of them coming up and talking with me about where the deal is. I was kind of wondering who it was they were meeting with,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-Tenn.) told reporters.

“I kind of felt left out,” he quipped.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' MORE (R-S.C.), a defense hawk who’s flirting with a 2016 presidential bid, said The Wall Street Journal report was “news to me.” Any information Israeli officials have shared with Graham, he already knew it, he said.

“No one from Israel’s ever briefed me about the agreement,” he told reporters.

Graham, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, quickly added: “I hope we’re spying on the Iranians."

The Israeli government reportedly spied on negotiations between Iran and Western powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. Israel also collected information from top-secret U.S. briefings and stool pigeons in Europe.

“I got to be honest; I’ve never had them really share anything with me that I couldn’t read in one of your publications,” Corker said, adding “most of it you can get on the Internet.”

“I was a little surprised at the tone. ... Actually, one of my reactions was ‘Why haven’t they been coming up here sharing information with me?’ ”

He noted that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer has visited Capitol Hill “several times” and “has never, never shared any details.”

Corker suggested the White House was responsible for “pushing out” the article.

Earlier this month, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE (R-Ohio) had privately huddled with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Capitol, just moments before the Israeli leader gave an address to Congress warning against a nuclear deal with Iran.

But BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE told reporters he was "shocked" and "baffled" by the espionage reports, and he made clear that he had never received any of the Israeli intelligence.

"I read that story this morning, and frankly, I was a bit shocked," Boehner said. "There was no information revealed to me whatsoever."

One Senate Intelligence Committee member, Angus KingAngus KingSenate appears poised to advance first Native American to lead National Park Service Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act GOP tries to take filibuster pressure off Manchin, Sinema MORE (I-Maine), said he was disturbed to learn that "Israel had gained inside information and then turned around and leaked it selectively to members of Congress to affect the congressional thinking on this proposed deal."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), however, said he wasn’t terribly surprised, although he hasn’t read the article.

“All nations try to get as much information as they can about what's going on that affects them — including the United States of America, as we know,” Hoyer said.

Other lawmakers struck a more reserved chord. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrDemocratic incumbents bolster fundraising advantage in key Senate races McConnell gets GOP wake-up call Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase MORE (R-.N.C) said he wasn’t aware of the reports of espionage, while the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel Feinstein Ban on new offshore drilling must stay in the Build Back Better Act Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Jane Fonda to push for end to offshore oil drilling in California MORE (Calif.), said, “all I know is what I read in this morning's newspaper.

But she noted that she might learn more during an intelligence briefing Tuesday afternoon on Iran.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Israeli officials "never" briefed his panel on the talks.

"We don't know anything about it," he said.

Asked if he knew of other members being briefed, he replied: "No, no."

"I found out about it last night," Nunes told reporters.

—This report was updated at 2:58 p.m.