House Intelligence Republican: Claims Gowdy acted as second lawyer for Kushner 'horses---t'

House Intelligence Republican: Claims Gowdy acted as second lawyer for Kushner 'horses---t'
© Moriah Ratner

Claims that Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyThe Hill's Morning Report — Arrest of Giuliani associates triggers many questions Trump says Gowdy can't join his legal team 'for a couple months' Trump grants posthumous pardon to Manhattan Project contributor MORE (R-S.C.) acted as a "second attorney" for Jared Kushner during his interview with the House Intelligence Committee are "horseshit," one of the three Republicans leading the panel's investigation into Russian interference in the election said Wednesday.

"I totally disagree with that," Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) told The Hill. "That's horseshit." 

When read the remarks made by the panel's top Democrat, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffEx-Trump aide on Russia testifies for 10 hours as part of impeachment inquiry Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump to slap sanctions on Turkey for Syria offensive | Trump calls on Turkey to broker ceasefire | Pelosi, Graham seek deal on sanctions | Ex-Trump aide testifies in impeachment probe GOP rep says he was kicked out of Trump aide's deposition MORE (Calif.), Rooney appeared stunned and visibly angry.

"I can't believe that. I haven't heard that. That's unfortunate," he said.

"For somebody to come out that and say that about another member is completely inappropriate and I can't believe he said that."

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Schiff told reporters that during the Tuesday interview "Mr. Gowdy took the role as a second attorney for Mr. Kushner," according to Bloomberg News.

Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, appeared before the panel on Tuesday to testify about a June 2016 meeting between the president's eldest son, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE Jr., and a woman described as a Russian government lawyer offering dirt on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Democrats fear Ohio slipping further away in 2020 Poll: Warren leads Biden in Maine by 12 points MORE.

The interview took place behind closed doors and under oath, according to Gowdy, who told The Hill on Tuesday that he found Kushner cooperative and forthcoming in his answers. He accused Democrats of unnecessarily dragging out the interview, which lasted over three hours.

Rooney on Wednesday echoed that assessment, but denied that there was any tension between Democrats and Republicans during the session.

The remark "totally surprises me," he said.

Just prior to being asked about Schiff's remarks, Rooney had praised the professionalism and bipartisanship of the committee's work.

"The Intelligence Committee has always separated itself from other committees in that we're not very partisan when we're down there. There's no grandstanding. I think people are trying to get the bottom of what they truly believe is an issue," he told reporters. "The only time we fight is over the timing of who's up and whose turn is it, and that's not a fight."

But the intelligence panel's investigation has already come close to the brink of partisan breakdown once — an incident that resulted in Rooney's elevation to an investigation leader.

Earlier in the year, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stepped back from the probe after making a clandestine trip to the White House to view documents he says revealed inappropriate unmasking of transition team officials.

That revelation quickly devolved into partisan infighting that threatened to derail the House panel’s investigation. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), assisted by Gowdy and Rooney, took over the probe in Nunes’s place, and the fracas had largely died down since.

Nunes has said that he temporarily stepped aside but did not recuse himself.

He was inside the House Intelligence Committee's secure space during the Kushner interview on Tuesday, but it's not clear whether he attended the meeting.

--Updated 10:59 a.m.