GOP lawmaker calls for investigation into CNN spy story

GOP Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsHillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Lawmakers say Zuckerberg has agreed to 'cooperate' with antitrust probe Collins seeks appointment to Isakson seat 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 top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' 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 PutinElection meddling has become the new normal of US diplomacy Maher: Republicans 'right' to say Democrats 'never got over Trump's behavior' We, the People: A radical idea that must persist 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 GrishamClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser marred by protests 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 PascrellOn The Money: Senate panel scraps vote on key spending bill amid standoff | Democrats threaten to vote against defense bill over wall funding | Trump set to meet with aides about reducing capital gains taxes GOP lawmaker calls for investigation into CNN spy story Ocasio-Cortez renews impeachment call amid probe involving Trump's Scotland property 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.