Republicans Ask DOJ IG to Investigate Whether Classified Information Was 'Mishandled'

By Susan Jones | February 16, 2017 | 7:47am EST
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. (AP File Photo)

( - The chairmen of the House Oversight and House Judiciary Committees have asked the inspector general of the Justice Department to launch an "immediate investigation" into the apparent mishandling of classified information that has made its way into news reports involving former National Security Director Michael Flynn.

In a Feb. 15 letter to Inspector-General Michael Horowitz, Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) wrote:

We have serious concerns about the potential inadequate protection of classified information here. Federal laws, and the Constitution, distinguish law enforcement investigation authorities from intelligence collection authorities for good reason, and in neither case is collection intended to enable the government's publication of conversations surreptitiously recorded by intelligence agencies. Similarly, the release of classified national security information can, by definition, have grave effects on national security. In light of this, we request that your office begin an immediate investigation into whether classified information was mishandled here.

In their letter, Chaffetz (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee) and Goodlatte (House Judiciary Committee) pointed to news reports potentially containing classified information.

One report said an intelligence agency had monitored Flynn's phone calls with the Russian ambassador. Flynn, at the time, was a private citizen, but soon to be President Trump's national security director.

Another report indicated that the National Security Division of the Justice Department applied for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to intercept electronic records from Russian banks.

And a report citing "current and former U.S. officials" detailed a meeting between former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and White House Counsel Don McGahn.

"Generally, collection activities by intelligence agencies are classified, as are the products that result from those activities," Chaffetz and Goodlatte wrote.

In an interview with Fox News's Martha McCallum Wednesday night, Chaffetz said, "Mishandling of classified information is something we have been keenly concerned about in a variety of settings...And so we want the inspector-general to dive into that issue, as he can do at the Department of Justice, and look under the hood and find out the truth behind this."

Chaffetz said he wants to know how classified information is ending up in the news media.

"No matter where you are in the political spectrum, you cannot have classified information migrating out into a non-classified setting," he said.


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