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New transcript reveals partisan tensions in House Intelligence Committee

Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Anyone looking for more proof of the partisan battle raging in the House Intelligence Committee can turn to the transcript of a recent closed-door hearing in which members argued over a Democratic memo about secret surveillance.

Democrats wrote the memo as a rebuttal to a Republican document that was released Feb. 2. The GOP memo alleged that the FBI and Justice Department abused the process needed to obtain a special warrant to authorize eavesdropping on a former foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign.

Even minor procedural issues appeared tense during the meeting Monday.

"Will the gentleman yield?" Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, said at one point, using the stilted language sometimes preferred in Congress.

"I will yield when I am finished," shot back Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn.

One of the biggest points of contention was whether Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the panel's chairman, had worked on his memo with White House officials.

He has denied drafting it with their help, but that didn't satisfy Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. He asked if Nunes or anyone else had "any communications with the White House as this memo was conceived, prepared and reviewed."

Nunes refused to answer. Quigley yielded in frustration, "understanding my futility of asking questions."

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The mood hadn't improved as the meeting drew to a close.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the panel's top Democrat, inquired about making the transcript public. Nunes responded by asking whether he wanted to question the stenographer.

"I have every confidence in the stenographer," Schiff said. "She is not the one I am worried about in this room."

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