U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg says the “most troubling part” of FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on Monday was his decision to remain silent about recent intelligence leaks coming out of the White House.
During a House Intelligence Committee hearing, the South Carolina Republican attempted to question Comey about whether there is an investigation into recent intelligence leaks. Comey wouldn’t acknowledge an investigation into the leaks, but he did say there is an ongoing investigation into possible “coordination” between President Donald J. Trump’s campaign and Russia.
“I think the most troubling part for me is when Director Comey would not assure us that there’s a leak investigation. He was more than happy to assure us that there’s an investigation into the potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia – which may or may not be a crime. The leaking of classified information is a crime, but he would not confirm that investigation,” the South Carolina Republican told Fox & Friends on Tuesday.
Gowdy and other House Intelligence Committee members also questioned Comey about intelligence leaks that led to the resignation of Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned last month after it was revealed he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Former and current White House officials told news outlets that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak in December. Officials said Flynn didn’t divulge classified information during the conversation. He instead told Kislyak that the Trump administration would likely adopt a more accommodating approach to sanctions.
On Monday, Gowdy asked Comey about whether former Obama administration officials would have had access to Flynn’s name. He then mentioned former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director James Brennan, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and others. Gowdy argued that “unmasking” Flynn’s name was a felony because it was part of a confidential intelligence gathering and had been “masked” to protect his identity.
Gowdy also asked Comey if former President Barack Obama was briefed about “calls that involved Michael Flynn.” Comey declined to answer. Gowdy, who shook his head in response, said he wouldn’t argue, but that he and Comey agree intelligence leaks are “most definitely” a crime.”
Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, then told Comey to “seek authority from whomever you need to seek authority from” to assure the intelligence leaks are investigated.
“Out of the 320 million people in our country, there aren’t that many that would’ve had access to the information,” Gowdy told Fox News. “So narrow the universe. Go interview the people. Phone records are helpful, email records are helpful – the same way you’d investigate any other crime. But you’ve got to want to do it. And you’ve got to view it seriously.”