Most of the top U.S. officials appearing in front of the Senate Intelligence committee Tuesday to discuss worldwide threats said that they did not take a position on or communicate with the White House about the release of two documents that have come under scrutiny from Democrats.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked the officials about the anti-FBI memo written by House Intelligence Republicans released this month. Wyden also asked about a Treasury Department list of Russian oligarchs, which it was required by law to release. The list was cribbed from a Forbes list of wealthiest Russian businessmen.
“My question, and any of you can respond, did any of you take a position on either of these two arbitrary classification decisions, and did any of you have any communications with the White House about either of those classification matters?” Wyden asked.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo all said no. CIA Director Mike Pompeo said the agency was not asked to review the declassification of either document.
National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers said he raised concerns with the DNI, but it was unclear which memo he was discussing.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, meanwhile, acknowledged that the FBI “did have interaction” with the White House on the House Intel memo. He reiterated what the FBI had said publicly before: that the bureau had “grave concerns” about its release.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) followed up on the House Intel memo and asked Wray whether the information in it was cherry picked.
“I would just repeat what we said at the time, which is that we had then and continue to have now grave concerns about the accuracy of the memorandum because of omissions,” Wray said. “We provided thousands of documents that were very sensitive and lots and lots of briefings, and it’s very hard for anybody to distill all that down to three and a half pages.”