Republicans boycott House intelligence hearing to protest ‘inadequate oversight’ of spy agencies

Feb 12, 2020
In The News

Republicans boycott House intelligence hearing to protest ‘inadequate oversight’ of spy agencies

Written by: Zachary Halaschak
Published by: Washington Examiner

Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee are taking a stand against Chairman Adam Schiff’s “inadequate oversight” of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

 

California Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member, and his fellow Republicans boycotted a subcommittee hearing Wednesday to protest the Democratic-led panel’s refusal to schedule a hearing or briefing on issues they deemed “critical,” including the Justice Department inspector general’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse report.

“Under your chairmanship, the House Intelligence Committee has strayed far from its mandate of overseeing the Intelligence Community. In fact, we have gone months at a time in which we’ve hardly held any oversight-related briefings or hearings at all,” the Republicans said in a Wednesday letter obtained by the Washington Examiner.

The members argue that Schiff, a California Democrat, has failed in his duty as chairman to hold a hearing to discuss the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report released in December that found several failures in the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into potential ties between President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.

The hearing Wednesday, held by the Strategic Technology and Advanced Research Subcommittee, focused on how next-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence can be used by the United States and allies.

The Republicans said they would not attend the public hearing, noting that there are “numerous” other committees that could conduct public hearings on emerging science and technology. The GOP lawmakers said the intelligence panel should “focus on critical issues we are uniquely postured to address.”

“Until the Committee prioritizes oversight activities related to urgent and critical concerns, Republican Members cannot support distractions from our core responsibilities,” the members wrote. “It is concerning that you prioritize publicity events rather than the more productive work that occurs in the Committee’s classified spaces.”

The letter was signed by Nunes, as well as Reps. Chris Stewart of Utah, Michael Conaway of Texas, Michael Turner of Ohio, Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Elise Stefanik of New York, Will Hurd of Texas, and John Ratcliffe of Texas.

“We hope this Committee can move past political investigations and publicity stunts and get back to the important work we have traditionally undertaken on a bipartisan basis,” they concluded.

Rep. Jim Himes, the chairman of the Strategic Technology and Advanced Research Subcommittee, said at the beginning of Wednesday’s hearing the decision by Republicans to boycott was “as wrongheaded as it is mendacious.”

“Last week I asked ranking member Stewart what was going on, he told me that ranking member Nunes felt strongly that his republican members not engage in the public work of this committee because of some perceived grievance associated with the impeachment investigation,” the Connecticut Democrat said. “So, this letter is actually a reversal of what I was told last week.”

“This committee has always succeeded in compartmentalizing the emotions and arguments of impeachment in the critical work we do on behalf of the American people. Not so today, that Rubicon has been crossed,” he added.

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