Report: Republicans Have Been Skipping House Intelligence Meetings For Months
POLITICO reports that Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee have skipped all but one of the panel’s meetings, both public and private, since early March, even before the House underwent its COVID-19 lockdown.
- The House Intelligence Committee has thirteen Democratic members and four Republican members. It has held at least seven bipartisan meetings and roundtables since early March by remote, virtual means.
- All of these proceedings have been unclassified. Some have been closed-door, but others were open-door meetings. One was an open hearing with representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter about foreign influence on election security.
- Republican representatives insist that they are refraining from the proceedings due to security concerns with the virtual proceedings.
Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) said,
These things get hacked… You border on classified information and maybe sometimes even spill into it. It’s just not the way to conduct business. And there is no reason for it.
And Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT) said.
I really don’t believe it’s a boycott. It’s not an organized effort at all. I would just say that we have concerns about the format.
The committee’s senior Republican, Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA), “repeatedly declined to comment when asked about the matter,” POLITICO reports.
Other members of the committee appear to disagree with the Republican representatives’ assessment. One unnamed official called the security worries “non-concerns” and said that committee staff “consulted our security and the House security” about possible breaches. The official said,
There was actually less risk of [a breach] happening during a Microsoft Teams or WebEx session than there was logging into your House email or Gmail account from your home computer.
According to POLITICO, “Democrats say the Republicans haven’t provided a good explanation about why they’ve withdrawn or indicated what could get them back to the table.”
However, Representative Jim Himes (D-CT) suspects there may be other grievances among those who are not attending. He suggested that the committee chair Adam Schiff’s role in Trump’s impeachment might be a factor.
He said, “They have their grievances, right?” But he added that “The whole thing is absurd.”
However, “Wenstrup and Stewart insisted that if the panel began to convene in person, the GOP would show up,” Yahoo! News reports.
Stewart said, “If it was in person I believe we would be there.”