The release of the four-page memo alleging the FBI abused its power in getting a surveillance warrant on a member of President Trump’s campaign hurts the credibility of the committee, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Panetta said the release of the memo is another example of partisan influence on a committee with an important duty — oversight of the intelligence community.
That charge is so important that bipartisanship is needed to properly protect the American people, he said. However, it appears politics is infecting the committee’s work.
“That worries me, because it damages, frankly, an institution that is critical to our national security,” he said. “The House Intelligence Committee, just like the Senate Intelligence Committee, was established in order to provide bipartisan oversight of a very highly sensitive unclassified intelligence information to make sure that our intelligence agencies, our law enforcement agencies were doing what is necessary to do, but pursuant to our Constitution and to the rule of law.”
“When that bipartisanship breaks down and when intelligence starts to be used on a partisan basis to score political points, I think that really undermines the way the intelligence committee is supposed to function, and it's going to hurt our ability to be able to have the kind of oversight we need in our democracy.”
Republicans and Democrats have been fighting each other on the committee almost since the beginning of the latest Congress in January 2017.
The chairman of the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, recused himself from the Russia investigation after sharing information from the committee with the White House, which brought on accusations that he was working too politically to conduct an unbiased investigation.
The release of the memo has been attacked by Democrats as a partisan move by Republicans to protect Trump and harm the reputation of the FBI. Meanwhile, Republicans allege the FBI’s leadership is politically biased in favor of Democrats and against Trump, and must be held to account.