- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A group of 18 Republican senators asked FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday to investigate whether President Biden’s nominee for a top post at the Pentagon disclosed or solicited classified information during the early days of the Trump administration, soon after leaving a job in the Obama White House.

The senators also asked Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, not to schedule a floor vote on the nomination of Colin Kahl for undersecretary of defense policy until the FBI has completed an investigation.

The Senate Armed Services Committee last month deadlocked 13-13 in a vote on Mr. Kahl’s nomination. The tie vote meant that the nomination advanced out of committee, but he still faces determined Republican opposition.

Republican Sens. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tom Cotton of Arkansas led the group of GOP lawmakers who wrote to the FBI director, which included Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida, Josh Hawley of Missouri, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, and Joni Ernst of Iowa.

Mr. Hagerty accused Mr. Kahl of disclosing classified information on social media.

“While privately leaking national security information is an unfortunate and damaging pastime of the Washington Swamp, nominee Colin Kahl reached new lows when he used social media to publicly disclose classified information and to brag about how sitting U.S. government officials had confirmed with him the details of classified information,” Mr. Hagerty said in a statement. “These disclosures are extremely concerning and warrant a complete FBI investigation to determine the full scope of the nominee’s mishandling of sensitive national security information, apparently for his own perceived political gain.”

Mr. Kahl was national security adviser to then-Vice President Biden during the second term of the Obama administration. He was also a negotiator of the Iran nuclear deal.

Mr. Kahl told senators in writing late last month that an article in The Washington Post in March 2017 was the source of his Twitter posts regarding allegedly classified details of a National Security Council committee meeting about a U.S. operation in Yemen.

But the senators said Mr. Kahl’s tweets in March 2017 contained sensitive information that wasn’t in the newspaper article.

The senators also pointed to tweets by Mr. Kahl in 2017 that seemed to confirm leaked classified information about military options against North Korea. Those tweets stated that “multiple” Trump administration officials had confirmed the information to him.

“Kahl’s growing record of apparent mishandling of classified information and controlled unclassified information and his evasive response regarding this issue fall short of the standard required for holding one of our nation’s top national security positions,” the Republican senators told Mr. Wray. “By apparently soliciting or otherwise receiving classified information and controlled unclassified information from U.S. government officials serving in national security roles and repeatedly posting such information on social media websites, Kahl demonstrated disregard for security protocols that are designed to protect our national security interests.”

The senators requested that the FBI review Mr. Kahl’s social media posts to determine whether he disclosed classified information after leaving the government. They also want to know whether he violated nondisclosure agreements regarding classified information.

During his confirmation hearing last month, Mr. Kahl apologized for tweets that were “sometimes disrespectful.”

“To state the obvious, the last few years have been pretty polarizing on social media, I’m sure there are times that I got swept up in that,” Mr. Kahl said. 

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