- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
- According to a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate body and its counterpart in the House have basically ceased working together on anything.
- The split comes after it was revealed that Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee had leaked the text messages of Senate committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner.
- The senator described the two committees, which used to work closely together, as being “worlds apart.”
Days after news broke that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee had leaked Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Sen. Mark Warner’s text messages to Fox News, a Senator on the Senate panel said relations between the two bodies had hit rock bottom.
“I would say there’s not much of a relationship at this point, to tell you the truth,” Sen. Angus King told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’re trying to just continue on on a bipartisan basis. You’ll notice there haven’t been all the memos and counter-memos and that kind of thing and there really isn’t that much of a relationship.”
“Were only a couple hundred yards apart, but it’s worlds apart in terms of the way we’ve approached this,” King added, referring to the Congressional investigation into Russian election meddling.
The House Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, has descended into an unprecedented level of partisanship in recent months, spurred by the release of Nunes’ controversial memo on alleged misconduct at the FBI and Justice Department with respect to the Russia investigation.
Ranking member of the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, released his own memo seeking to clarifying Nunes’ claims. Both memos contained sensitive information that President Donald Trump had to declassify for them to release it.
Unprecedented partisan conflict
- REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
The friction between the two committees reached a boiling point this week when The New York Times reported that members of the House Committee were the ones who leaked Warner’s text messages to Fox News.
Warner had been texting Adam Waldman, the lobbyist of powerful Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, in an effort to get in touch with former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the so-called Trump-Russia dossier.
Deripaska also worked with President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and has frequently come up in events related to the Russia investigation.
In another incident in January, when Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr requested to see a copy of Nunes’ memo prior to its release, he was duly rebuffed.
While the Senate Intelligence Committee has reportedly been functioning as normal, the House Committee on the other hand has become mired in infighting, which many experts and intelligence veterans have portrayed as a threat to national security.
“Of course it is [a threat to national security],” Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the editor-in-chief of the national security blog Lawfare, told Business Insider. “It’s not even a subtle thing.”
A former senior intelligence official contextualized his statement.
“I fear that the result of today’s dynamic … is not just hurt feelings in the intelligence community or the FBI or lowered morale,” the official previously told Business Insider. “It is chiseling away at the standing of these institutions in the eyes of the American people.”
Watch King’s interview below: