One of the more difficult aspects of the Trump/Russia investigation has been the Senate running a relatively bipartisan effort, yet the House committee has been actively squabbling as “recused” committee head Devin Nunes keeps trying to release memos and generally obsfucate investigations into whether Russia attempted to influence the election and if so, why. The two committees have not been particular fans of each other, but new allegations have stepped up the animosity, as the Senate Intelligence Committee has alleged House Republican’s leaked a Senator’s text messages to Fox News.
It starts with ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner. Warner, and indeed the Senate as a body, has been attempting to bring Christopher Steele, the author of a dossier that notoriously alleged Trump hired prostitutes to urinate on a bed Obama slept in, to testify. They’ve already spoken to his boss, Glenn Simpson, but would like to ask Steele more questions. As part of those efforts, Warner contacted attorney Adam Waldman, who is reportedly close to Steele. Waldman has extensive (and publicly disclosed) contacts with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, so Waldman, for the sake of transparency, submitted copies of the messages, and Warner informed his colleagues of his efforts.
Then the House requested the Senate’s documentation, which it shared. And then, somehow, Warner’s text messages wound up on Fox News, practically straight from the congressional copier, according to a New York Times report:
The documents published by Fox News appear to back up the senators’ accusation. Though they were marked “CONFIDENTIAL: Produced to USSSCI on a Confidential Basis,” suggesting that they had come from the Senate panel, known as the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the person familiar with the congressional requests said that the stamp was misleading and that other markings gave away their actual origin… Specifically, the copy of the messages shared with the Senate was paginated, and the one submitted to the House — while preserving the reference to the Senate committee — was unpaginated… A lawyer for Mr. Waldman independently concluded that the House committee had probably shared the document and sent a letter to Mr. Nunes complaining about the leak, according to a person familiar with the letter.
While Fox News obviously won’t disclose its source, it’s pretty clear who Warner and Republican Senator Richard Burr, head of the Senate Committee, believe did it. Elsewhere in the New York Times reporting, it notes that Warner and Burr complained to House Speaker Paul Ryan about Nunes, and Nunes’ spokesman, when contacted by the Times, didn’t deny that the leak came from the committee. Burr and Warner didn’t recommend any specific sanction or action be taken against Nunes, but they are clearly upset. And it will likely cause more problems, as now the Senate has no reason to believe the House committee will respect its work, or the data it gathers.
(via The New York Times)