Last week, as FBI Director James Comey told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that his bureau is investigating possible coordination between the associates of Donald Trump and the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) did everything in his power to change the subject. Rather than focus on the serious allegations that Russia may have interfered in the presidential election, he expressed outrage that this information had become public.
When talking about leaks that made Trump look bad, Gowdy’s interest was entirely in how that information got out. “Unauthorized dissemination is punishable by felony up to 10 years in federal prison?” he asked Comey during last Monday’s hearing. After complaining about apparently leaked details of a call between former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador, Gowdy demanded: “I thought it was against the law to disseminate classified information. Is it?”
But days after the strange announcement by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) that he “recently confirmed that on numerous occasions the intelligence community incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition” — details he apparently received during a mysterious visit to the White House grounds — Gowdy has reversed course.
On Fox News Channel’s First 100 Days on Monday, Gowdy slammed Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York for criticizing Nunes’ credibility and suggesting he should step down.
“ I wish Senator Schumer and some of the other Democrats would be more interested in the authenticity and the reliability of the underlying data and not the means by which it was acquired,” he complained. “Whether the White House or Waffle house, what difference does it make if the information is reliable and authentic?”
While there is some difference between providing classified information to the media and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, the decision by Nunes to alert President Trump and the press before even informing the other members of his committee could itself have constituted a leak of classified information.
While Gowdy’s selective outrage is trained exclusively on Democrats, the criticism of Nunes has not been. Gowdy’s own Republican U.S. Senator, Lindsey Graham, told NBC’s Today on Tuesday that Nunes was running an “‘Inspector Clouseau investigation,” observing, “I think he put his objectivity in question at the very least.” Graham noted that the House committee’s investigation is “off track and probably can’t get back on track.”