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House Intel Committee Republicans Boycott Hearing Due to Schiff’s Refusal to Address FISA Abuses

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) looks on during the House impeachment inquiry hearings, in Washington, D.C., November 20, 2019. (Doug Mills/Reuters)

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee boycotted a hearing on Wednesday, complaining that the committee’s Democratic chairman Adam Schiff has neglected proper oversight of the intelligence community by failing to hold a hearing on the Justice Department inspector general’s report detailing the FBI’s FISA abuses.

“Under your chairmanship, the House Intelligence Committee has strayed far from its mandate of overseeing the Intelligence Community,” the panel’s nine GOP members wrote in a letter to Schiff obtained by the Daily Caller.

“Until the Committee prioritizes oversight activities related to urgent and critical concerns, Republican Members cannot support distractions from our core responsibilities,” they added.

The Republican representatives afterwards boycotted a hearing of the Strategic Technology and Advanced Research Subcommittee on the development of artificial intelligence for national security, criticizing the hearing as a “publicity event.”

In December, the Justice Department’s inspector general released a report concluding that the FBI omitted crucial details in its requests for warrants to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page, specifically that the agency neglected to inform the FISA court that the controversial Steele dossier, cited in applications to spy on Page, was unreliable.

The dossier was compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele who was investigating Donald Trump for an opposition research firm hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign. The dossier purported to show connections between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

The DOJ inspector general did not say the FISA court should have declined to grant the warrants, but Attorney General William Barr has disagreed, saying the FBI launched an “intrusive investigation” of the Trump campaign on the “thinnest of suspicions” that were “insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

“We have gone months at a time in which we’ve hardly held any oversight-related briefings or hearings at all,” the Intelligence Committee Republicans wrote to Schiff. “Until the Committee prioritizes oversight activities related to urgent and critical concerns, Republican Members cannot support distractions from our core responsibilities.”

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