Georgia Rep. Doug Collins called Tuesday for investigations into how CNN obtained seemingly classified information about a CIA operation to extract a longtime Kremlin spy from Russia.
“I really question whose side is CNN on,” Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
“This is a problem we’re seeing. I think it needs to be investigated. But with the CIA coming out like it has then I think this will be something we need to look at.”
Collins was responding to a question about CNN’s report from Monday about a CIA operation in 2017 to extract a Russian spy who provided intelligence about Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.
CNN’s Jim Sciutto, a former Obama administration official, cited five sources who provided details of the extraction operation. He also reported that the CIA decided to remove the spy in part because of concerns about how President Trump handles classified information.
The CIA pushed back on the narrative that there were concerns about Trump’s handling of classified intelligence. The New York Times also undercut that part of the CNN story in reporting that the CIA carried out the operation solely because of concerns that media scrutiny would expose the source.
According to The Times, details about the spy were first referenced in an NBC News report published on Dec. 14, 2016 report. The story said that U.S. intelligence had learned from sources working in the Kremlin that Vladimir Putin directed the hacking operation.
A day after that report, then-FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok told FBI attorney Lisa Page that he was concerned that other government agencies were leaking information for political reasons.
“Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking in to overdrive,” Strzok wrote in a text message to Page.
Sciutto said Tuesday that his sources were from the intelligence community and Capitol Hill.
Collins noted that CNN recently hired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as a law enforcement analyst. He said that McCabe is “one of the disastrous parts of the cabal that started against the president.”
McCabe is under Justice Department investigation for allegedly lying to the FBI about disclosing information to the media in October 2016 regarding an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. Collins did not allege that McCabe was a source for Sciutto.
“To put it out at this time and to put it in such a way that the CIA actually had to come out and respond to this is really a disturbing part,” Collins continued.
Other lawmakers, including Democrats, expressed frustration over the classified leaks to CNN.
“The notion that five government officials are actually talking to Jim Sciutto: I respect the press a lot, but what the heck?” Himes said in an interview on CNN, moments after Sciutto was on air to discuss his story.
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