Rep. Adam Schiff is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee
He accused President Donald Trump of declassifying information in a cavalier way
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that President Donald Trump may have declassified sensitive intelligence about a potential hack of the Central Intelligence Agency.
“It’s one thing if the President has a detailed and thoughtful conversation with the intelligence community about what to declassify, what to release to the public,” Schiff told CNN. “But if, on the other hand, this was simply the President looking for an opportunity to attack his predecessor, and giving little thought to the consequences of what he might be disclosing, that is a big problem.”
“This is not something that should be done off-the-cuff by the President of the United States just looking for a cheap shot at his predecessor,” he said.
Trump told Fox News Wednesday, “I just want people to know: the CIA was hacked and a lot of things taken. That was during the Obama years.”
Trump was apparently referring to WikiLeaks’ release of documents last week that founder Julian Assange said it obtained through a hack of the CIA.
Requests for comment to the White House were not immediately returned Thursday.
Schiff noted in an earlier statement that the President has the power to declassify intelligence merely by stating it publicly “but this should be done as the product of thoughtful consideration and with intense input from any agency affected. For anyone else to do what the President may have done would constitute what he deplores as ‘leaks.’”
It’s possible that Trump may have declassified intelligence about surveillance of his campaign in a series of tweets two weeks ago – although House and Senate investigators have said they have found no evidence to back up the President’s claims.
The California Democrat said that he was still trying to learn from intelligence officials precisely what Trump meant. He also said that Trump may have actually leaked information himself, with the comment, after spending weeks blasting intelligence sources and the press over reports about communications between his aides and Russian officials.
“It concerns me greatly that this President, after criticizing so many others about leaking potentially classified information should be discussing things that may very well be classified in such a cavalier fashion,” Schiff told CNN.