WASHINGTON – isan sparring over the Russian investigation into the cause of the chaos on the traditionally bipartisan House intelligence committee — with the panel now plans for the construction of a wall separated the Republican and Democratic staff members who have long sat next to each other.
A senior Republican in the committee, Florida Rep. Tom Rooney, said Thursday that he thinks the commission is “poison” now, the characterization of party-political tensions as a total breakdown of the by the committee for national security concerns. Rooney is one of the leaders of the panel’s investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 election, and whether the Trump campaign was involved.
“The confidence is just gone,” Rooney said, adding that “certain things are certainly suffering,” how to finance and conduct oversight over the intelligence services.
Rooney said he was discouraged that only three or four members of the committee attended a recent national security briefing about a “very sensitive issue abroad that we have been in years.” He said that the sparsely-attended meeting came at the same time lawmakers were in the public debate about their differences over a GOP memo that criticized the methods the FBI used to obtain a surveillance warrant on a one-time Trump campaign link.
The plan to divide the Republican and Democratic staff members of the two parties have openly are at odds, first, about the panel’s ongoing investigation into Russia, and more recently about the Republican investigation into the FBI and the Department of Justice. A committee official confirmed the plan to separate the staff, the characterization of the motion as the placing of the panel in line with most other committees in the House, where the majority and the minority of the staff of the various establishments. The official declined to be identified because the committee’s activities are not open to the public.
Much of the tension between the Republican chairman of the panel, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and the committee of the top Democrat, California Rep. Adam Schiff, who are chiding each other since the launch of the Russian research together last year.
Schiff said the distribution of the two rods would be a “terrible” mistake.
“We have more than our share of difficulties, the most important supervision on the work of the commission remains with our employees to work together regardless of party,” Schiff said. “This would be a very destructive decision.”
It is unclear what the wall would look like, or if it would be permanently separated from the employees. CBS News first reported that there would be a partition.
He challenged Rooney account that the committee’s other work is suffering, noted the panel has recently released a bipartisan bills to renew intelligence programs. Schiff said he believes that the committee has up to now been able to “compartmentalize.”
A spokesman for Nunes did not respond to a request for comment on the Rooney’s characterization of the committee.
Rooney expressed frustration with Democrats, but also with the breakdown of bipartisanship in general. He said that another likely outcome is that the Republicans and Democrats will be separate reports about the Russia-research and the partisans will believe just one report.
“To the extent that is the debt that everyone is so excited about the guilt of Devin, but I can’t tell you that it’s Devin’s fault, that the atmosphere down there is what it is,” Rooney said. “You could easily say the same about Adam on our side. But that didn’t help.”
The tension is escalated in the last few weeks, as Democrats have disputed that the GOP memo, which was released by President Trump was released last week and unredacted by the committee. The commission voted Monday to release classified Democratic counter-memo, but the Republicans have said that they think that it is the needs of the editors. Trump has five days from the Monday vote to determine whether or not the issue.