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Top Democrats request meeting with intel chief over sharing of classified info

Top Democrats request meeting with intel chief over sharing of classified info
© Greg Nash

Top congressional Democrats wrote to Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsExperts see 'unprecedented' increase in hackers targeting electric grid Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows MORE on Friday, expressing concern that his office may have shared key classified documents with a larger group of lawmakers than initially agreed upon.

The letter, signed by Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' McCarthy says he supports Stefanik for House GOP conference chair Ode to Mother's Day MORE (Calif.), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFacebook board decision on Trump ban pleases no one Schumer works to balance a divided caucus's demands Senate Intel vows to 'get to the bottom' of 'Havana syndrome' attacks MORE (D-Va.), and House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFree Speech Inc.: The Democratic Party finds a new but shaky faith in corporate free speech Trump backs Stefanik to replace Cheney Gender politics hound GOP in Cheney drama MORE (D-Calif.), said the wider sharing of the information may have put sources and methods at risk.

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The Democrats are part of a select group of eight members of Congress, including top-ranking Republicans, who were granted access to review a slew of sensitive materials, including ones that led federal officials to launch the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The letter requested a meeting with Coats "as soon as possible" to discuss the possible disclosure, but did not specify which information was allegedly shared with the larger group of lawmakers or how it was shared.

“In recent days, we learned that certain classified documents that were originally made available to a small group of designated members have been made more broadly available to all members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees,” the lawmakers wrote to Coats in a letter dated Thursday. 

"While we understand the need for congressional oversight, this action – which we understand was taken at your direction – contravenes your representation to us and our colleagues that this information would not be shared outside that group," they added.  “We believe your decision could put sources and methods at risk."

Republican lawmakers have been pressing the FBI and the Department of Justice to turn over more information on a series of decisions taken by intelligence agencies during the 2016 presidential election, including details about an FBI informant’s contacts with members of the Trump campaign.

“As you know, during our meetings on this sensitive matter we discussed at great length the importance of protecting sources and methods and ongoing investigations,” the Democrats wrote. “All of the meeting's attendees agreed that the information discussed was among the most sensitive type of information and should be protected accordingly.”