House Intelligence committee staffers could soon find a physical wall built to separate Republicans from Democrats amid growing distrust over the panel’s Russian election meddling investigation, according to reports.
While office partitions are common across the Capitol, the House and Senate Intelligence committees traditionally deal with some of Washington’s most sensitive national security information and thus were know to try to operate above the partisan fray.
The current House Intelligence committee, however, has been ground zero for partisan Congressional skirmishing in the Russian election-meddling saga.
The latest round of conflict has made massive headlines and involves dueling memos drafted by the committee’s chairman and top Democrat addressing allegations of surveillance abuses by the FBI and Department of Justice.
Panel chief Devin Nunes and top Democrat Adam Schiff now appear to be battling over whether a wall should divide staffers based upon party.
The idea for a wall came from Mr. Nunes and could be built this spring, CBS News reported.
Panel member Tom Rooney, Florida Republican, said the Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating committee staff over alleged leaks, which could be a source of the tension, he said.
Reacting to the news, Mr. Schiff reported “terrible mistake.”
“While we have more than our share of difficulties,” the California Democrat said. “The important oversight work of the committee continues with our staff working together irrespective of party. This would be a very destructive decision.”
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a former member of the committee, said more important issues need to be addressed.
“When Devin and Schiff get over this battle they’re talking about right now, it will be right for our country for those two to work together in a bipartisan way,” the Maryland Democrat told CBS. “These are some of the most dangerous times our country has ever faced.