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 CoatsThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s attorney general pick passes first test Dems zero in on Trump and Russia National security center launches program to help US firms guard against foreign hackers 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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOn The Money: Trump teases 'major announcement' Saturday on shutdown | Fight with Dems intensifies | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking trip to Afghanistan | Mnuchin refuses to testify on shutdown impacts Ellen DeGeneres buys cheesecakes from furloughed federal workers who were baking to make ends meet Trump teases 'major announcement' about shutdown on Saturday MORE (Calif.), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell Hillicon Valley: Senate panel subpoenas Roger Stone associate | Streaming giants hit with privacy complaints in Europe | FTC reportedly discussing record fine for Facebook | PayPal offering cash advances to unpaid federal workers Senate panel subpoenas Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi MORE (D-Va.), and House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell Giuliani calls latest Cohen allegations 'categorically false' Sen. Murray says Washington behavior reminds her of former preschool students 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.”