House Republicans Boycott Intelligence Panel Hearing, Say FISA Abuse More Important

In a sign that partisan tensions remain high in the wake of President Donald Trumps impeachment, House Republicans boycotted a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday, accusing Democrats of ignoring a Justice Department inspector general (IG) report released last year.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking member, and Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), wrote a letter saying that the Intelligence Committee needs to focus on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse that was detailed in the IGs report and as a result, Republicans will not attend Wednesdays meeting.

“Under your chairmanship, the House Intelligence Committee has strayed far from its mandate of overseeing the Intelligence Community. In fact, we have gone months at a time in which weve hardly held any oversight-related briefings or hearings at all,” Republicans wrote Wednesday to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is the committee chairman and served as the lead impeachment manager in Trumps inquiry and trial.

The letter added that “numerous critical issues pertinent to this Committees jurisdiction were ignored” in recent days, adding that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report on Dec. 9, 2019—during the height of the impeachment inquiry—that found “seventeen serious shortcomings related” to the FISA process to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on Dec. 11, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

“The IG Report was followed by the release of a declassified assessment by the Department of Justice acknowledging that at least two of the four FISA applications lacked probable cause,” the GOP committee members continued. “Despite the seriousness of these issues and our clear jurisdiction, you have failed to hold a single briefing or hearing on this matter.”

Schiffs office has not returned a request for comment.

The letter from Nunes and Stewart was signed by Reps. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Michael Turner (R-Ohio), Brad Wenstrup, Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Will Hurd (R-Texas), and John Ratcliffe (R-Texas).

Wednesdays Intelligence Committee held a hearing involving Strategic Technology and Advanced Research Subcommittee, which had experts on intelligence and technology.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) told reporters he had received the letter on Wednesday morning that said Republicans wont attend the event.

“Last week, I asked ranking [subcommittee] member Stewart what was going on, he told me that ranking member Nunes felt strongly that his Republican members not engage in the public work of this committee because of some perceived grievance associated with the impeachment investigation,” _