INTL

Senate Intelligence Committee in focus on C-SPAN and the big screen this fall
Don’t mess with the intel panel

Annette Bening plays former Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein in the upcoming political thriller “The Report.” (Courtesy MovieStillsDB)

It’s going to be a big couple of months for the Senate Intelligence Committee, both on Capitol Hill and at the box office.

Chairman Richard M. Burr and ranking Democrat Mark Warner find themselves once again at the epicenter of the biggest political story in Washington, tasked with leading the Senate’s review of President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukraine that seem all but certain to result in impeachment by the House.

African Americans top targets of 2016 Russian info warfare, Senate panel finds
Panel says campaigns, media outlets need to verify source of viral social media posts before sharing

Sens. Mark Warner, left, and Richard M. Burr have led the Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian election interference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Intelligence Committee has confirmed the extent of the Russian government’s expertise at exploiting racial divisions in America.

Among the key takeaways of the second volume of the committee’s study of Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election is the extent to which minorities were targeted.

Sondland is a no-show at Intel hearing, Schiff and Jordan respond

Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks with the media after Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, was blocked from appearing for a closed-door deposition in the in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mysterious dossier delivered to Congress by State Department watchdog
Documents said to contain conspiracy theories related to Ukraine

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick departs a meeting with congressional staffers and Rep. Jamie Raskin on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The State Department’s inspector general on Wednesday shared with Congress a dossier of unknown origins that one lawmaker said contained conspiracy theories and was hand-delivered to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo months ago.

With members away from the Capitol for a two-week recess, Steve Linick, the State Department’s top watchdog, briefed congressional staffers Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, on the documents that Raskin said arrived at the department in May.

Staff security clearances may vex House Intelligence members
Rank-and-file members likely have no aides to consult on the most sensitive information in impeachment probe

House Intelligence member Jackie Speier has called for panel members to have one personal staffer with TS/SCI clearance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rank-and-file members of the House Intelligence Committee, who are at the nucleus of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, likely have no personal aides to consult on the most sensitive information handled in the high-stakes probe.

The two Californians who lead the panel, Chairman Adam B. Schiff and ranking Republican Devin Nunes, have staff with Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information Security Clearance, also known as TS/SCI clearance. But other lawmakers on the committee traditionally have not had personal staff with such a clearance.

Senate Intelligence goes slow, seeks meeting with whistleblower
Panel met behind closed doors with acting intelligence director, inspector general

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, in closed session. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Intelligence Committee is just getting started on a review and inquiry into the whistleblower complaint that has rocked Capitol Hill this week.

“We’ve had a very productive first day. There’s a lot that we have to learn to proceed forward, but it’s our intention to go through that process,” Chairman Richard M. Burr told reporters after a closed hearing with Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson.

Whistleblower can’t explain Trump’s DNC missing server theory
President has alleged that a DNC server somehow ended up in Ukraine

President Donald Trump’s request for help from Ukraine locating a server used by the DNC during the 2016 election befuddled the whistleblower. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The whistleblower accusing President Donald Trump of pressuring the president of Ukraine to influence the 2020 U.S. election wrote in a complaint that he or she was unsure why Trump also asked the foreign leader to turn over a hacked computer server belonging to the Democratic National Committee.

In the complaint, released publicly on Thursday following a prolonged struggle between the White House and Democrats in Congress, the whistleblower said he or she did not understand Trump’s request that Ukraine locate and turn over a server used by the DNC during the 2016 presidential election and subsequently examined by CrowdStrike, a U.S. cybersecurity firm.

Intel chief calls whistleblower complaint ‘unprecedented’
Acting director of national intelligence Maguire explains to House Intelligence Committee why he didn’t release complaint to Congress

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on the Capitol on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The acting director of national intelligence on Thursday told the House Intelligence Committee that he did not forward to the panel a whistleblower complaint regarding President Donald Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Biden family, as he first needed clarification if the complaint was one that could be superseded by executive privilege.

Joseph Maguire detailed the process he undertook after receiving the complaint, saying his staff spent the last several weeks working with the White House legal counsel to determine whether the president’s executive privilege would prevent him from sending the complaint to Congress.

Bush-era torture memos cast doubt on human rights nominee’s approval
Sen. Robert Menendez said the administration had not been transparent on two separate matters relating to Billingslea’s background

Marshall Billingslea prepares to testify during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in 2017.  Billingslea’s nomination is in doubt because lawmakers say the Trump administration has not turned over information relating to Billingslea’s background. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The future of a Trump nominee to serve as the executive branch’s highest-ranking human rights official is in doubt following a difficult Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing and lawmakers’ frustration over how the nomination has been muscled through.

With last week’s confirmation hearing of Marshall Billingslea to be the next undersecretary of State for civilian security, democracy and human rights, Committee Chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho, broke with a decades-long tradition of agreement between the Republican and Democratic panel leaders when scheduling committee hearings and markups.

Ukraine controversy may scare off would-be whistleblowers
Future complaints could either go the Edward Snowden route or remain under wraps

The current framework for enabling intelligence community disclosures of classified allegations dates back to a 1998 law, which Congress updated in 2010 and 2014. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Whoever blew the whistle about what President Donald Trump told the leader of Ukraine in a July phone call did so in the legally correct way, yet the allegation has been impeded and the intelligence official’s character and motivations publicly impugned by the president himself.

There are other officials working right now at places like the CIA and the National Security Agency who are ready to disclose problems that Congress needs to know about. But instead of going through official channels, experts say, these officials may be more likely to either give the information to a reporter or just shut up about it.