Republicans Blast Mike Turner for Hyping Russia Threat, Call for an Inquiry

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29: Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) speaks during a House Armed Service
Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty

Some Republican lawmakers slammed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) for publicly raising the alarm on an alleged threat from Russia, in what they say is a politically driven gambit to get Congress to pass billions in aid for Ukraine as well as an intrusive surveillance bill.

Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN) on Thursday called for an investigation into Turner in a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), first reported by Punchbowl, blasting him for “reckless disregard of the implications and consequences said information would have on geopolitics, domestic and foreign markets, or the well-being and psyche of the American people.”

He wrote:

In hindsight, it has become clear that the intent was not to ensure the safety of our homeland and the American people, but rather to ensure additional funding for Ukraine and passage of an unreformed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

This act constituted poor judgement at a minimum and a complete breach of trust influenced by the pursuit of a political agenda at a maximum,” he wrote.

Ogles also raised the prospect of Turner being removed as chairman, writing, “[S]hould the chairman retain his post, you have a duty and an obligation to reassure this body (Congress) and the American people that the processes of the Intelligence Committee have not been corrupted by the very institutions they are charged with monitoring.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Turner — a supporter of aid to Ukraine — prompted public concern after he issued a vague statement about “a serious national security threat,” and requested that President Joe Biden “declassify all information relating to this threat so that Congress, the Administration, and our allies can openly discuss the actions necessary to respond to this threat.”

Turner also fueled media frenzy by making the intelligence available for all members of the House to go and view in a space in the Capitol known as a SCIF, or sensitive compartmented information facility. Often, reporters gather just outside the space in hopes of catching members leaving the SCIF for comments related to what they just viewed.

Just hours later, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made an appearance at a White House press briefing to urge the House to pass $61 billion in aid to Ukraine.

Sullivan also revealed that he was the one who contacted Turner and other members of the Gang of Eight earlier in the week about the alleged threat that Turner later went public with, but claimed he was surprised that Turner did so.

The Gang of Eight includes the Republican and Democrat leaders of the House and Senate, as well as the Republican and Democrat leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Sullivan said he had set up a briefing for those members for Thursday, so that he was “a bit surprised” that Turner had gone public before then.

Sullivan said it was “highly unusual” for a national security adviser to reach out personally to the Gang of Eight, but said he did so to set up the briefing.

A U.S. official told ABC News that President Joe Biden had specifically asked Sullivan to reach out to Turner and the Gang of Eight.



Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a staunch opponent of sending more U.S. taxpayer aid to Ukraine on top of the $113 billion already spent, called Turner “incredibly irresponsible.”

“The game you’re watching is not the game that is actually being played. I think it was incredibly irresponsible for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner to go out and gaslight the country alleging this national security threat,” he said on his show Firebrand.

“Without being able to discuss the country or the matter, here’s what I can say. I read the intelligence today. And while, of course, these types of things require us to keep an eye on them, it was not, like, markedly different than other similar types of intelligence analysis that we have received, that I have been briefed on for several years now as a seven-year member of the House Armed Services Committee,” he said, adding:

And so, then it really begs the question, why? Why were you gaslit? Why was there this big, overarching claim of the imminency of some harm to the American people? You see in the House of Representatives, we are working to block a nearly $100 billion dollar deficit spend. And we’re concerned that that deficit spending isn’t going to make the world safer — giving money to Ukraine, any other kind of provocations around it — it could actually make the world considerably less safe.

And so…conservatives stuck together, killed this bad bill. And then right on the heels of that you have Mike Turner out there saying oh, this big national security threat. And you watch, they’ll try to use the veneer of this threat to try to justify spying on you, spending your money driving up prices and being inflationary.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who said she was also in the SCIF, said the real national security threat is Biden being a “dementia patient,” the over 10 million people illegally crossing the U.S. southern border — including an “unknown number” of terrorists, and the country being $34 trillion in debt that China owns most of.

She added:

Perhaps the greatest threat is the federal government has become so powerful over the people that it leaks ‘intelligence’ to the press in order to pressure Congress to make certain votes, protect its own power to spy on its own citizens, maintain power and protect its own job security, and most terrifying of all has become weaponized to crush its political enemies.

Greene concluded, “All of this I’m telling you didn’t come from the SCIF, you already know, and I’m depending on you to help me stop our greatest national security threat, the one from within.”

Donald Trump Jr. also questioned the alleged threat, posting on X, “Does anyone really believe that there is a serious Russian threat that magically leaks about 30 seconds after the Speaker said they’re not going to take up funding another $60 billion in Ukraine? Is anyone stupid enough to buy this at this point? Textbook deep state propaganda!”

Turner on Thursday indirectly hit back at Ogles’s accusation of “reckless disregard,” arguing that he had consulted the Biden administration before notifying all members of Congress about the threat. He said in a statement:

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence worked in consultation with the Biden Administration to notify Congress of this national security threat.

In addition, language in the bipartisan notification issued by the Chair and Ranking Member to all Members of the House was cleared by the Administration prior to its release.

The House Intelligence Committee voted 23 to 1 to make this information available to Members of Congress. White House officials confirmed that, in their view, the matter was ‘serious’.

Turner’s decision to go public about the alleged Russia threat came about a week after he visited Ukraine. He posted five days ago on X:

I led a bipartisan CODEL to Kyiv, where we met with President @ZelenskyyUa, @USAmbKyiv Blank, and senior Ukrainian officials.

@RepFrenchHill, @RepJasonCrow, @RepSpanberger, Rep. @ZachNunn, and I reiterated America’s commitment to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

The Senate over the weekend passed a $95 billion bill that would spend $61 billion on Ukraine, but House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said he has no plans to bring it to the House floor anytime soon.

Sullivan urged Johnson to do so, arguing that a majority of members of the House support sending aid to Ukraine.

Turner’s statement also came right before the Munich Security Council security conference, where dozens members of Congress will meet with European leaders this week to discuss global security matters, including support for Ukraine.

This story has been updated with a statement from Turner.

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