House Intelligence Committee Republicans are planning to build a physical wall to separate Democrat and Republican staffers, according to committee sources who spoke with CBS News.
The wall is reportedly being constructed sometime this spring, CBS reported.
The push for a wall is reportedly the result of an erosion of trust among staffers, according to Republican committee members who spoke to CBS. One of the Republicans who spoke with CBS, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), said the Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating the committee’s Republican staffers over alleged leaks, which could be a source of the tension, he said.
Another Republican member who spoke with CBS suggested the idea may have been spurred on by House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
The panel’s ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told TPM through the committee’s minority spokesperson that the wall would be a “terrible mistake.”
“We have heard reports that the chairman may seek to erect a ‘wall’ to divide the staff of the intelligence committee on a partisan basis — this would be a terrible mistake,” Schiff said. “While we have more than our share of difficulties, the important oversight work of the committee continues with our staff working together irrespective of party. This would be a very destructive decision.”
A spokesperson for the majority could not be reached Thursday.
The reported plans to build a physical barrier between majority and minority staffers follows an ongoing partisan rift between members of panel. That divide was laid bare last week by the release of Nunes’ partisan memo that purports to show the FBI abused the FISA system to secure a warrant to extend surveillance of a President Donald Trump campaign aide.
House Intelligence Committee Republicans voted to release the memo last Monday, which Trump declassified on Friday, but the committee stalled on a vote to release Democratic members’ counter-memo. The committee voted to release the Democrats’ memo early this week, but the White House is still mulling whether to declassify it.
Democrats claim their memo will push back against central allegations of the Republicans’ memo.