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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 RatcliffeTrump alumni launch America First Policy Institute Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE (R-Texas), Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinLawmakers launch bipartisan caucus on SALT deduction Biden funding decision inflames debate over textbooks for Palestinian refugees Rep. Lee Zeldin announces bid for New York governor MORE (R-N.Y.) and Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveVoters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Democrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains McAdams concedes to Owens in competitive Utah district MORE (R-Utah) sent a letter on Monday to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhite House readies for Chauvin verdict House GOP's McClain responds to Pelosi calling her 'that woman' GOP struggles to rein in nativism MORE (D-Calif.) urging them to investigate the leaks. Their request comes one week after Donald Trump Jr.Don TrumpTrump Jr. shares edited video showing father knocking Biden down with golf ball Trump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged 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 McDanielRNC rolls out ad campaign hitting Democrats over election reform RNC to shadow Biden as he promotes COVID-19 relief bill Fundraising spat points to Trump-GOP fissures 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 SchiffOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing 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 TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict 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 SpeierOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing House removes deadline for ratifying ERA MORE (D-Calif.) and Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGOP struggles to rein in nativism Personal security costs for anti-Trump lawmakers spiked post-riot Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting 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.