A pair of national security experts agreed the House Intelligence Committee’s probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia was distracting those lawmakers from preparations for the next attack on U.S. democracy.
Mike Rogers, the Republican former chair of that committee, appeared Friday morning on CNN’s “New Day,” where he blasted current chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and the ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for publicly discussing the investigation through the media.
“All of that needs to stop, candidly,” Rogers said. “We have some huge issues facing that intel committee and our national security around the world. Think about the defense minister from Russia, a guy named (Sergei) Shoigu, who came out and said, ‘We’re going to ramp up our propaganda, we’re creating a new information warfare unit.’ The intelligence committee would do well to eschew the partisan politics and work on that issue, (and) let the FBI do the criminal piece.”
CNN’s Chris Cuomo hammered Nunes for providing President Donald Trump with political cover on his wiretap claims, and former CIA and FBI analyst Phil Mudd agreed the partisan squabbling had distracted committee members from more important work.
“I think the FBI should be investigating collusion and determining whether, with the Department of Justice, there should be charges,” Mudd said. “What are Republicans are talking about? Who was wiretapped, whether the unmasking of names was appropriate, and how names were leaked. Fair questions, but not questions Americans should have. Americans should be asking, not only what happened with Russian interference, as Mike was talking about, but how we secure the next election.”
Mudd said there should be a debate over whether the federal government, including the FBI, should help candidates protect their servers from hackers, but instead Schiff and Nunes were battling each other through the press.
“We hear a Democrat going to the microphone every time he reads intelligence, a Republican going to the microphone, and neither of them talking about Russian interference in elections,” he said. “That’s what we should be talking about.”
Rogers warned that allowing the election probe to descend into partisan bickering and distract from important preparations for another attack essentially handed Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, another type of victory.
“They call it propaganda, (and) I think they say they want it to be clever, smart and efficient,” Rogers said. “Well, many argue that they’ve accomplished that. By the way, with this sheer partisanship, they’ve ramped up their ability. The Russians think this was the most effective information operation ever, because even if they didn’t get everything they wanted out of it, it still lives on with this sharp partisanship. It spent two or three weeks saying Putin is the largest guy on the face of the earth. That sends a message to our friends and adversaries overseas, and you can see them reacting to this, ‘Hey, maybe this Putin is somebody we need to work with that we might not have worked with before.’ This all has consequences.”