Sharp partisan turn in fight over Obama national security leaks

Sharp partisan turn in fight over Obama national security leaks

The fight over national security leaks in the Obama administration took a sharply partisan turn Tuesday with the introduction of a Senate resolution by Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEleventh Democratic presidential debate to be held in Phoenix Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock Biden on Graham's push for investigation: 'I don't know what happened' to him MORE (R-Ariz.) calling for an independent investigation. 

Republicans also sharply attacked President Obama and Vice President Biden, with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham warned Pentagon chief about consequences of Africa policy: report Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony US defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk MORE (R-S.C.) accusing the two of hypocrisy for calling for a special counsel during the Bush administration when they were serving as senators.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It's the height of hypocrisy for them to oppose it," McCain told reporters. "They all supported the appointment of a special counsel when the issue was far less serious than this one."

“All we’re asking for is what Senator Obama and Senator Biden asked for in previous national security events involving corruption of the government,” Graham said, referring to the Valerie Plame and Jack Abramoff cases.

“I guess the difference is we’re supposed to trust Democratic administrations and you can’t trust Republican administrations,” Graham said.

McCain and Graham said on the Senate floor that a special counsel is necessary because of possible conflicts of interest from sources of the leaks within the Obama administration.

Graham also accused Democrats of having a double standard at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday at which Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThey forgot that under Trump, there are two sets of rules NAACP to honor John Lewis Trump is flooding the swamp that Obama drained MORE testified.

“There’s no doubt in my mind if the shoe was on the other foot, you and everybody on that side would be screaming,” Graham told Judiciary Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' Pentagon transferring .8 billion to border wall 'Birds of Prey' movie reveals Harley Quinn voted for Sanders MORE (D-Vt.) after Graham had urged Holder to appoint a special counsel.

That comment sparked protests from both Leahy and Majority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump commutes sentence of ex-Illinois Gov. Blagojevich The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders surge triggers Dem angst MORE (D-Ill.), who said that Graham had gone “over the line.”

Senate Democrats blocked McCain's resolution Tuesday afternoon. Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case MORE (D-Ore.) objected after McCain asked for unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to consideration of his resolution.


Criticisms of the leaks last week were notable for their bipartisanship, with members of both parties objecting to some of the worst national security leaks they said they had ever seen. 

But McCain ran into opposition from Democrats with his Tuesday measure, and the hearing included new partisan sniping. 

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHouse passes bipartisan bill to create women's history museum Democrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' What the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber MORE (D-Calif.), who has fiercely criticized the leaks, said she opposes the appointment of a special counsel. Just last week she had said she was undecided. 

“To have a fight over how we do this now will set back any leak investigation,” Feinstein said the Judiciary hearing.

Holder defended the independence of the two U.S. attorneys he appointed to investigate the leaks in the face of Republican criticism at the hearing.

“This committee and the American people can have great faith in the two people I've asked to lead this investigation,” Holder said.

But Graham and other Republicans said that Holder’s record raises red flags about his own ability to remain independent.

A House panel has scheduled a vote next week to hold Holder in contempt for not providing documents to lawmakers related to a controversial gun-tracking operation known as "Fast and Furious," and the attorney general has become a punching bag for Republicans. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Booker, Cornyn introduce bill to fund school nutrition programs Three Senate primaries to watch on Super Tuesday MORE (R-Texas), who on Tuesday said Holder should resign, said he was not satisfied by Holder’s claim that his U.S. attorneys would conduct an independent investigation.

“The question that’s raised by your answer is whether you have the independence when all of this comes back through you, and given your track record,” Cornyn said.

Updated at 1:58 p.m.