Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich both called for CIA Director John Brennan’s resignation late Thursday after the spy agency admitted it had improperly accessed Senate staffers’ computers used during a review of the agency’s Bush-era interrogation practices.
“After being briefed on the CIA inspector general report today, I have no choice but to call for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan,” Udall said in a statement. “The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers.”
Additional reports claimed that Sen. Lindsey Graham was also asking Brennan to step down due to the controversy. An aide Thursday denied knowing of any call for resignation, though the South Carolina Republican said in March that “heads should roll, and people should go to jail” if the allegations of CIA hacking proved true.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stopped short of calling for Brennan’s head, but said the CIA’s admission was “appalling and deeply threatening to our system of checks and balances.”
“The CIA’s leadership must take action to address these misdeeds, restore its trust with Congress and ensure that this episode will never, ever be repeated,” Reid added.
Other senators, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, have refused comment on whether they believe Brennan should be removed from his post. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the Intelligence panel’s top Republican, said calls for a resignation were “premature.”
“There are still a lot of undisclosed facts out there,” Chambliss said.
Sen. Susan Collins said she had “been shown no evidence that [Brennan] directed, authorized, or approved of the intrusions themselves, which I consider to be a very serious infringement on Congressional oversight.”
Earlier Thursday, the CIA admitted that its employees had “acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding” agreed to between the agency and its Senate overseers, according to CIA spokesman Dean Boyd. The mea culpa marked a sharp reversal of previous denials by Brennan, who said allegations of hacking of Senate computers was “beyond the scope of reason.”
Feinstein earlier this year took to the Senate floor to deliver bombshell allegations that the CIA had secretly accessed her panel’s computers that were being used to review documents related to the government’s torture, detention, and rendition policies allowed during George W. Bush’s presidency. She accused the CIA of impeding her staffers’ investigation and charged the agency with possibly violating the Constitution.
Udall, who serves on the Intelligence panel, was the first senator to state publicly that Brennan should give up his position. The Colorado Democrat is facing reelection this year in a tight race that The Cook Political Report has deemed a Toss-Up.
On Friday, the New York Times editorial board said the CIA had breached the trust of not only Congress but the American public and called for personnel changes.
“One of those heads may need to be Mr. Brennan’s,” the board wrote. “If he knew about the break-in, then he blatantly lied. If he did not, then apparently he was unaware of the lawless culture that has festered within the C.I.A. since the moment it was encouraged by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to torture suspects and then lie about it.”
What We're Following See More »
In a unanimous decision, "the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it violates insider-trading laws for a corporate officer to make a “gift” of insider information to a relative, a decision that makes it easier for those who police Wall Street to bring prosecutions."
House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.
As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."