Republicans to Give Prosecutors Documents on Leaking AllegationsBy
Government prosecutors to be asked to review potential crimes
Democrats say Republicans are trying to distract attention
House Republicans plan to give federal prosecutors what they say is evidence that Obama administration officials illegally shared or leaked names of associates of President Donald Trump that were incidentally collected in U.S. government eavesdropping.
The Intelligence Committee obtained information from documents and other sources that it plans to turn over to the Justice Department, likely by August, to determine whether crimes were committed, panel Chairman Devin Nunes of California said in an interview.
Nunes declined to identify the individuals he says acted improperly and would be identified in the “criminal referral” Republicans plan to submit. He also declined to specify what evidence the committee uncovered about any illegal sharing or leaking by Obama administration officials of the identities of U.S. citizens caught in surveillance. He said the relevant documents are classified.
Democrats immediately blasted Nunes’s remarks, calling them a symbol of how he has fueled partisanship in the Intelligence committee’s probe of Russian election-meddling. Committee Democrat Jackie Speier of California said members of her party haven’t seen any evidence of potentially illegal activity relating to unmasking.
"No, absolutely not," Speier said.
Democrat Michael Quigley of Illinois said members of his party on the committee view the unmasking investigation as an effort to distract attention from the panel’s probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Trump has repeatedly called on lawmakers to investigate leaks and the unmasking of names from intelligence reports.
Nunes stepped aside from leading the committee’s Russia inquiry amid criticism over his sharing of raw intelligence with Trump. Representative Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican, took over leadership of that probe. Nunes said the unmasking investigation is separate from the Russia investigation.
Committee subpoenas sent May 31 focused on requests by former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power to reveal individuals’ names inadvertently captured in intelligence reports.
Democrats and former administration members of both parties have described unmasking as a normal bureaucratic process that has a rigorous set of checks and balances.
Republicans also are examining why masked names in intelligence reports -- including some involving Trump associates -- were requested and shared between intelligence agencies during the transition between the Obama and Trump administrations.
Nunes said the committee is continuing to develop a list of those believed to have shared classified information with people who weren’t entitled to see it, including news reporters.
Some of the reports at issue include documentation of communication between foreign officials discussing the Trump transition team, as well as communication between Trump staff and foreign officials, Bloomberg News previously reported.