Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch on Friday called for a preliminary investigation into two top Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee for potentially disclosing classified information to the public in violation of House ethics rules.
Judicial Watch has requested the Office of Congressional Ethics to look into whether Vice Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) broke House ethics rules for disclosing classified information to the public, with which left-wing groups have targeted its Republican chairman.
Last month, progressive groups MoveOn.org and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) requested an investigation into Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) after they said he had done the same thing.
Nunes temporarily stepped aside from leading a high-profile probe into Russia’s involvement into the U.S. presidential elections while the Office of Congressional Ethics is looking into whether any rules were broken.
Judicial Watch noted this double-standard in its request:
If the standard for filing a complaint or opening an ethics investigation is that a member has commented publicly on matters that touch on classified information, but the member does not reveal the source of his or her information, then the complaints against Chairman Nunes are incomplete insofar as they target only Nunes.
At least two other members of the House Intelligence Committee have made comments about classified material that raise more directly the very same concerns raised against Chairman Nunes because they appear to confirm classified information contained in leaked intelligence community intercepts.
The left-wing groups filed their complaint against Nunes after he told reporters on March 22 that he had seen evidence that the intelligence community had incidentally collected information about Trump transition team members, and that the information was widely disseminated and their names unmasked.
Judicial Watch noted that Schiff had spoken to an audience at the Brookings Institution the day before, on March 21, appearing to confirm a leaked December 29 conversation between incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“And then you have leaks that expose malfeasance or illegality. Now, I put that kind of leak, I put the Flynn leak in that category,” Schiff had said.
Judicial Watch also cites an April 3 Daily Caller story in which Speier, a committee member, appeared to confirm the contents of that call.
“Ambassador Kislyak and General Flynn were freelancing sanctions relief at the end of December, when he had no portfolio in which to make any kind of negotiations with Ambassador Kislyak,” the Daily Caller reported she said.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement, “At least two leading Democrats, Reps. Schiff and Speier, on the House Intelligence Committee, seem to have improperly disclosed classified information.”
“While the Ethics Committee examines Rep. Nunes’s innocuous statements on Obama’s surveillance on the Trump team, it ought to expand its investigation to include the other members of the Intelligence Committee who seem to have flagrantly violated the rules.”
The committee’s former chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) also called for Schiff to recuse himself from the Russia probe in a CNN op-ed earlier this month, for discussing classified information in public.
Schiff said he did not think Roger’s request “is a serious one.”