The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee accused the panel’s Republican chairman Devin Nunes of “cancelling” an open hearing on Russian election interference on Friday. The rebuke came after Nunes said he was postponing the hearing until after the committee hears closed testimony from FBI director James Comey and NSA director Admiral Mike Rogers.
The decision and pushback mark the latest party-line clash surrounding the committee’s Russia probe. That investigation includes the leaks that precipitated the February resignation of former national security adviser Mike Flynn as well as potential collusion between Trump associates and Russia.
“On Thursday we learned that the chairman wanted to close the hearing set for Tuesday or cancel it altogether,” California congressman Adam Schiff told reporters. “Of course, that was not in our view in the public interest and we resisted that. Today the chairman has announced that hearing is cancelled.”
“We welcome at any time bringing the former directors back in closed session. We don’t welcome cutting off the public access to information,” he said. “This is a serious mistake.”
The panel was slated to hear from former Obama administration intelligence and law enforcement officials Tuesday in the second hearing related to the investigation.
The remarks from Schiff came an hour after Nunes said he was postponing the hearing in order to make time for a closed briefing with Comey and Rogers. Both officials testified publicly before the committee Monday.
A Nunes spokesman told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the hearing was postponed because committee members wanted to ask Comey and Rogers follow-up questions before having another public hearing.
“The questions must be answered on a classified basis, so they want to bring them back to the committee in closed session,” the spokesman said. “They want to get answers to those questions before they speak to the witnesses previously scheduled for Tuesday.”
At the Monday hearing Comey announced that the FBI is investigating possible coordination between the Trump team and Russia as part of the agency’s probe into Russian election meddling.
Schiff likened Nunes’s moves to a “dodge.”
“This is not a desire to have them come back in closed session and somehow that’s at conflict with having an open hearing that is already scheduled,” he said.
Nunes told reporters after the hearing Monday that the witnesses had not been as forthcoming as he expected.
“I don’t think it was nearly as fruitful as it should have been,” he said.
Other Republicans also said that they did not learn much from the hearing. New York congressman Pete King told TWS that he and other members knew a great deal of what Comey discussed prior to his testimony.
“We pretty much heard all of this the last few months,” King told TWS on Tuesday.
King acknowledged that Comey was limited to unclassified information during the open hearing. Still, he said, the director was less publicly vocal about his frustration with intelligence leaks.
“Comey in private is much more angry about the leaks than he showed yesterday,” King said.
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard