The dispute between the two ranking members of the House Intelligence Community intensified on Friday, after a week in which the Republican chairman received information and bypassed the committee before sharing it with the the White House.
Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the committee, announced on Friday that the scheduled March 28 open intelligence hearing with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former CIA Director John Brennan had been “postponed,” so the committee could make time to hear from FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers. Nunes also announced that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is again in the spotlight following an Associated Press report that he had worked to further the interests of Vladimir Putin’s government in Russia, had volunteered to go before the committee.
Although Nunes used the word “postponed,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said it was a cancellation and tweeted that Nunes had made the decision to “choke off public info.”
“I think this is a serious mistake,” Schiff told reporters. “We agreed that many of these hearings would be done in open session.”
“I think there must have been very strong pushback from the White House about the nature of Monday’s hearing,” he speculated. “Its hard for me to come to any other conclusion about why it would be cancelled.”
Schiff said he was not opposed to Comey and Rogers coming in for a closed hearing, but was adamant that Yates, Clapper and Brennan appear for open testimony.
This was the second time Schiff has openly disagreed with Nunes this week, which is unusual for two ranking members of a committee that is generally viewed as being able to function in a bipartisan manner.
After Nunes bypassed the committee and told the press and the White House that he had received information that the intelligence community collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition team, Schiff questioned his colleague’s ability to lead a credible investigation. On Thursday, he insinuated on that Nunes had released the information because he was colluding with the White House.
Schiff said Nunes had still not shown the committee the documents.
He also said the events of the week strongly point to the need for an independent investigation into possible Russian interference in the presidential election.