GOP lawmaker calls for investigation into CNN spy story

GOP Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsThe five dumbest things said about impeachment so far Pelosi accepts Collins's apology for saying Democrats are 'in love with terrorists' Trump's legal team gets set for impeachment trial MORE (Ga.) on Tuesday called for an investigation into CNN over the network's report that said the CIA pulled a high-level informant from Russia amid concerns that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE mishandled intelligence.

“To put this out at this time and to put it such a way that the CIA had to come out and respond to this is really a disturbing part,” Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said on Fox News.

“I really question whose side CNN is on," the GOP congressman continued. "This is a problem we’re seeing. I think it needs to be investigated. With the CIA coming out like it has, I think it has to be something we look at."

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Collins's call for an investigation came as the White House and CIA broadly denied CNN's report, and as new reporting emerged from other outlets that appeared to contradict key parts of the network's story.

CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill on Tuesday.

CNN's report published the previous day was the first to detail efforts by the CIA to extract a top informant from Russia.

The network noted that the high-level source was extracted during a secret mission in 2017, saying it came "at a time of wide concern in the intelligence community about mishandling of intelligence by Trump and his administration."

CNN reported that the source's removal was driven "in part" by concerns Trump and his administration could contribute to the source's exposure by mishandling classified intelligence.

But later reports published by The New York Times and The Washington Post contradicted part of CNN's story.

Former intelligence officials told the Times that there was no public evidence indicating that Trump directly endangered the informant. Other officials said the extraction stemmed from concerns about the media's scrutiny of the agency.

As news outlets reported more on topics such as the CIA's intelligence on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the agency reportedly revived an extraction plan for the top-level informant.

The move ultimately caused the CIA to lose a key source of its information about the Kremlin. The spy was key to the CIA's finding that Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinDOJ releases new tranche of Mueller witness documents Russia's shakeup has implications for Putin, Medvedev and the US The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to lay out impeachment case to senators next week MORE ordered interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Times reported.

The Post also reported that while Trump's disclosure of classified counterterrorism information in a May 2017 meeting with Russia's foreign minister and ambassador alarmed U.S. officials, it was not the reason for the source's exfiltration.

CNN did note that U.S. officials had expressed concerns about the safety of the source and other Russian assets at the end of the Obama administration.

Both the CIA and White House fiercely pushed back against CNN's reporting.

CIA Director for Public Affairs Brittany Bramell said in a statement to CNN that its narrative for the story was "simply false."

"Misguided speculation that the President's handling of our nation's most sensitive intelligence — which he has access to each and every day — drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate," Bramell said. 

White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamHill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate receives impeachment articles as trial opens Republicans criticize Pelosi for gifting pens used to sign impeachment articles MORE also said in a statement that CNN's reporting was incorrect and it had "the potential to put lives in danger."

Beyond Collins, Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellHouse approves Trump's USMCA trade deal amid shadow of impeachment A solemn impeachment day on Capitol Hill Van Drew, set to switch parties, will vote as a Democrat on impeachment MORE (D-N.J.) has also called for an investigation into some of the reporting surrounding the spy, though Pascrell is pushing for a probe into whether Trump or members of his administration played a role in the CIA decision to pull the informant.

"A national security matter of the highest importance, House committees of jurisdiction must immediately look at what role, if any, Donald Trump and members of his administration had in the decision to extract or reveal the source," he said in a statement.