During Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., questioned FBI Director James Comey, demanding answers regarding various intelligence leaks that have affected the Trump administration.
Gowdy pressed Comey concerning the leak that led to national security adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation, asking the director if an investigation of those leaks was imminent.
The South Carolina representative pointed to the potential danger of these intelligence leaks, saying that citizens entrust the government with specified authority in exchange for safety.
“That US citizen could be them next time. It could be you. It could be me. It could be anyone,” he added.
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Gowdy also doggedly pushed Comey to disclose a shortlist of government officials who would have had access to the Flynn intelligence, naming a few officials to see if Comey would respond.
He asked whether former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch and ex-White House adviser Ben Rhodes could have known Flynn was caught on tape conferring with the Russian ambassador.
Comey acknowledged all but Rhodes were privy to the information, the disclosing of which is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He also said the FBI will take the disclosure “very seriously.”
Earlier in the hearing, Comey said the Justice Department had authorized him to confirm the ongoing investigation into possible “coordination” between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Comey further stated that he had “no information” to support President Trump’s claims that former President Barack Obama ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the election campaign.
“I have no information that supports those tweets,’’ he said. “We have looked carefully inside the FBI, and agents found nothing to support those claims.”
When asked by Gowdy to confirm if the FBI would investigate leaks regarding Flynn, Comey stated he could not for fear of validating leaked classified intelligence.
“I can’t,” he said. “But I hope people watching know how seriously we take leaks of classified information. But I don’t want to confirm it by saying we’re investigating it. I’m sorry I have to draw that line, I just think that’s the right way to be.”
The reply left Gowdy speechless and unsatisfied, prompting the congressman to ask Comey to seek authority “from whomever [he needs] to seek authority from” to seriously investigate and prosecute “what Congress thought was serious enough to attach a 10-year felony to.”