U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., however, used his allotted time Monday to chase another thread: what the Justice Department could do to hold government employees accountable for leaking classified information to news reporters, and ferreting out the guilty parties.
“Whether Russia attempted to influence our Democratic process is incredibly important,” said Gowdy. “(But) one thing you and I agree on is felonious dissemination of classified material is indeed a crime.”
He added, “I would humbly ask you to seek authority from whomever you need to seek authority from (to investigate).”
Gowdy, who assumed the clipped and confrontational demeanor he more often reserves for cross-examining witnesses during congressional hearings, said he wasn’t “all that interested in motives.”
However, Gowdy, a former South Carolina prosecutor, made it clear he had some ideas of who might have leaked classified information and why: Former members of President Barack Obama’s administration seeking to besmirch members of the incoming administration.
Gowdy also intimated that reporters who wrote about the classified information could be guilty of some crime. He asked Comey, dryly, whether journalists received an exception from felony charges if they were printing sensitive material “to break a story.”