Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday a meeting between a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders and intelligence and law enforcement officials is a “farce” because the disclosure of classified information should be limited to the so-called “Gang of Eight” — a collection of Senate and House leaders who traditionally receive the briefings on sensitive intelligence matters.
Two intelligence briefings are scheduled for Thursday afternoon to discuss the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It is said to include details about an FBI informant who contacted members of the Trump campaign.
The first briefing, at the Justice Department at noon, will include only two lawmakers, both Republicans. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican, and House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, Republican South Carolina, will take part in the meeting along with White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and others from the FBI and DOJ.
A second meeting, also at the Justice at Department at 2 p.m., will include the Gang of Eight, which is comprised of House and Senate leaders from both parties along with chair and ranking minority leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees. Mr. Gowdy will also attend along with Mr. Kelly, Mr. Rosenstein, Mr. Wray and Mr. Coats.
But Mr. Warner blasted the first meeting, accusing the White House of providing a separate briefing for its Republican political allies. He said the briefing is an attempt to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
“If they insist upon carrying out this farce, the White House and its Republican allies in the House will do permanent, longstanding damage to the practice of bipartisan congressional oversight of intelligence. They will also be sending a terrible message to anyone who works in or with our nation’s intelligence community that the White House will always prioritize partisan politics over protecting the people who help keep this country safe,” he said.