The House Intelligence Committee will continue its regular oversight of America's spies—but not until next week.
The committee does important work other than investigate Russia—they provide Congressional oversight over America's spies and intelligence community as a matter of regular business. That was thrown into turmoil as well. Members of the committee returned to the Capitol this week to find that a regular Monday and Thursday briefing had been cancelled. A closed hearing with the FBI and NSA directors had also been scrapped.
“Monday briefing was not cancelled because it was never scheduled—we set that time aside for caucus preparation for the hearing we’d originally planned for Tuesday. Thursday briefing was postponed with the agreement of the minority,” said a Nunes spokesman.
“[Democrats on the committee] agreed to [a Republican] request to cancel the regularly scheduled Thursday hearing after they unilaterally cancelled the Tuesday hearing to let tempers subside,” a House Intelligence Committee aide told The Daily Beast.
Democrats said that they believed the business of the committee had been halted indefinitely.
“The committee has been frozen. We oversee an $80 billion operation. Our intelligence community is out there doing things that need oversight, let’s just put it that way,” Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) said.
Members of the panel arrived back to Washington, D.C. Monday to find their committee in chaos. Chairman Devin Nunes had just admitted to the press that he visited the White House grounds last week before a shocking press conference in which he made allegations that Trump transition officials were “incidentally surveilled” by U.S. intelligence agencies.
The investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election stalled as members of Congress began calling for Nunes to resign as chairman or recuse himself from the probe. Nunes’s behavior, which involved briefing the president before even members of his own committee, led to doubts about his independence and whether he had credibility to lead the investigation.
Now Democrats and Republicans on the committee tell The Daily Beast that their regular briefings will begin again next Monday, with another briefing scheduled next Thursday.
However, given the strains between the two sides of the committee over the past week—with many Democrats calling on the Republican chairman to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, that regular business may be more fraught as usual.
Meanwhile, there is no sign as to when Republicans will agree to resume hearings related to the Russia investigation. Democrats on the committee want them to resume next week. Nunes' spokesman had no comment when asked if they would.