The nation’s deep political divide is often on full display among elected officials on Capitol Hill.
As a recent example, the Washington Examiner reports that Republicans on the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee are now boycotting briefings held by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
The news comes amid increased scrutiny on the White House over reports that President Donald Trump ignored warnings by top intelligence officials regarding an apparent Russian-funded bounty on American troops overseas.
“Boycotting the briefings”
Russian spies allegedly offered members of the Taliban cash in exchange for every soldier they killed.
Trump denied having been briefed on the intelligence and suggested the claims were simply not true, but Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for an investigation into the credibility of the shocking allegations.
Schiff confirmed during an appearance on MSNBC that “the Republicans are boycotting the briefings that we are doing,” telling host Chris Hayes on Monday that he intended the sessions to be bipartisan in nature, as the Examiner reported.
Asserting that GOP committee members “don’t have much of an explanation” for their behavior, Schiff stressed that the information being presented is “important” for national security.
“Now, I saw one of the members try to explain that they don’t think that it’s secure enough, but these briefings are unclassified material,” Schiff said, according to the Examiner. “In fact, some of these briefings are open hearings, and they’re still not even attending even the open hearings for the public.”
“It’s very childish”
While Schiff said that he believes “it’s very childish” for the GOP to skip the briefings, Republicans claim there is a valid reason. A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the ranking Republican on the committee, tied the decision to the fact that the House is largely conducting its business via teleconference as a precaution against spreading the coronavirus.
“Republicans believe a committee that handles our nation’s most sensitive secrets should not be conducting its business in open hearings staged in an unsecured manner over the internet,” the congressman’s communications director explained.
Schiff told Politico, however, that the strategy “seems almost counterproductive on their part,” adding that he hopes “they will reconsider.”
This is hardly the first time Schiff has faced accusations that he lets politics cloud his judgment on serious issues. Time will tell whether the Republican resistance will have a noticeable impact.