During FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Monday in front of the House Intelligence Committee, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy stole the spotlight by describing what awaited any Obama officials who had helped leak classified, anti-Trump intelligence to the media.
“There are statutory safeguards, there are warrants based on probable cause, there is a (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court that is involved, there are audits on the back end,” Gowdy said, according to a transcript from The Washington Post. “And we think so highly of this material, it is a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison, to unlawfully disseminate it.
“All of this was done to make sure this information gathered remains protected as it relates to U.S. citizens.”
While there have been several major leaks since President Donald Trump took office two months ago, the primary one that concerned the South Carolina lawmaker was the one that had led to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigning from his post last month.
As noted by The Hill, Flynn resigned after unknown officials in the government leaked information regarding a phone call between former Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
In his questioning, Gowdy pushed Comey hard on how the leaks should be treated.
- Gowdy: Do you agree much of what is learned from these programs is classified or otherwise legally protected?
- Comey: All FISA applications reviewed by the court collection by us pursuant to our FISA authority is classified.
- Gowdy: The dissemination of which is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison?
- Comey: Sure, dissemination — unauthorized dissemination.
- Gowdy: Unauthorized dissemination of classified or otherwise legally protected material punishable by a felony up to 10 years in federal prison.
- Comey: Yes. Yes, as it should be.
According to The Daily Caller, Gowdy also pointed to six top Obama administration officials as potential sources of the leaks, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director James Brennan, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former White House Adviser Ben Rhodes, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates.
Watch Gowdy go to work here:
Admittedly, Gowdy provided no evidence to prove these six officials had in reality orchestrated the leaks of damaging anti-Trump intelligence, but that was not the point.
What Gowdy had aimed for Monday was to make it loud and clear to any and all Obama officials that he had his eyes on them — and that if they had misbehaved in any way, shape or form, they could ultimately pay a very steep price for their transgressions.
If I were them, I would be shaking in my boots.
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