congress

Republicans boycott House Intel hearing

“It is concerning that you prioritize publicity events rather than the more productive work that occurs in the committee’s classified spaces,” the Republicans wrote.

Devin Nunes

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee boycotted a hearing Wednesday on emerging technology and national security, calling it a “distraction” and contending that the panel should be focused on “urgent and critical concerns” like a recent watchdog report identifying errors and abuses in the FBI’s domestic surveillance program.

Republicans outlined their concerns in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and the GOP side of the dais sat empty as the hearing began.

“Given the committee’s access to highly sensitive information, it is concerning that you prioritize publicity events rather than the more productive work that occurs in the committee’s classified spaces,” they wrote, in a missive led by ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and signed by the panel’s eight other Republicans.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who chaired Wednesday’s hearing, called the GOP boycott a “sad and dangerous” break from the committee’s long history of “compartmentalizing” politically charged feuds to handle the nuts and bolts of intelligence work.

“That Rubicon has been crossed,” he said, calling the GOP’s letter “as wrong-headed as it is mendacious.”

Himes attributed the GOP gambit to bitterness over the House’s impeachment effort, which the Intelligence Committee led throughout the fall. Schiff engineered a process that led to 17 top White House, State Department and Pentagon officials testifying about Trump's effort to press Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals. The committee's final report on the matter included phone records that indicated Nunes had been in touch with Trump associates involved in the Ukraine effort.

Schiff has previously indicated that his panel would continue the Ukraine probe in the aftermath of impeachment, but after last week’s acquittal by the Senate, the panel has yet to take any public moves to indicate the probe is continuing.