A political feud erupted on Wednesday over the US House Intelligence Committee’s probe of suspected Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, with charges that the panel’s Republican chairman subpoenaed the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency without telling Democratic members.
Committee aides complained that the chairman, Representative Devin Nunes, who publicly recused himself from leading the Russia probe in April following a secret visit he paid to White House officials, failed to consult Democrats on the subpoenas.
The subpoenas asked the agencies to provide details of any requests made by two top Obama administration aides and the former CIA director to “unmask” names of Trump campaign advisers inadvertently picked up in top-secret foreign communications intercepts, congressional sources said.
The former officials named in the subpoenas were Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and former CIA Director John Brennan.
The CIA declined to comment on the subpoenas and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NSA did not immediate respond to requests for comment. US privacy laws and intelligence regulations require that Americans’ names picked up in foreign communications intercepts be concealed unless senior officials request them to be disclosed for intelligence or law enforcement purposes. Any such requests undergo rigorous legal reviews.
The spy agency subpoenas were not mentioned in a bipartisan announcement on Wednesday that the panel approved subpoenas for Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, in connection with the Russia probe.
The committee also approved subpoenas to the two men’s firms, Flynn Intel Llc, and Michael D Cohen and Associates PC.
CNN reported on Wednesday night that congressional investigators were looking into whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an undisclosed private meeting with Kislyak during the election campaign.