A powerful House Republican is calling on the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into former FBI Director James Comey’s alleged leaks of classified information, the Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday.
Comey admitted in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last month that he leaked information from one memo to the news media to spur the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and chair of its National Security subcommittee, also called on President Trump to purge Obama holdovers still working in the federal government.
In an exclusive interview with the Beacon, DeSantis claimed that “the holdovers and their allies outside the White House are responsible for an unprecedented series of national security leaks aimed at damaging the Trump administration’s national security apparatus.” And he singled out none other than Ben Rhodes, the creator of the Obama White House echo chamber (which is still operational), as the person responsible for most of the leaks. DeSantis said he wants to get Rhodes under oath to testify before Congress about his nefarious activities since he left the White House.
— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) July 11, 2017
DeSantis named Ben Rhodes—the former National Security Council official responsible for creating an in-house “echo chamber” meant to mislead reporters and the public about the landmark nuclear deal with Iran—as a primary source of these leaks and urged the House Intelligence Committee to call Rhodes and other former Obama officials to testify publicly about any role they may be playing in spreading classified information to reporters.
Comey’s behavior warrants a DOJ investigation due to the former FBI director’s admittance that he disclosed private information to the public in order to damage the Trump administration, according to DeSantis.
“Congress needs to press Sessions and other people to make sure they are investigating this because the American people need the truth,” DeSantis told the Free Beacon in a wide-ranging interview. “If he did violate any laws, he needs to be held accountable. If you’re violating laws in service of doing political warfare, that is just absolutely unacceptable, particularly for someone who held such a high position in the government.”
Comey has gone on record stating that he “leaked in order to trigger a special counsel, which in some ways is pretty extraordinary,” DeSantis noted.
Comey’s actions raise further questions about his ethics, DeSantis said.
“Not only is he leaking this stuff, not only were the memos done in the course of his employment and likely government property, he may have disclosed classified information in this quest to basically wage a vendetta against the president because the president fired him and to try and create a special counsel,” DeSantis said.
“This guy is really a creature of the swamp. He maneuvers around D.C. in ways that are very similar to how D.C. insiders operate,” DeSantis said of Comey. “He’s one of the best in those regards.”
DeSantis and other lawmakers are now seeking copies of Comey’s complete memos in order to review whether classified information may have been leaked to the press in violation of U.S. law.
“Comey has made a concerted effort to not disclose these memos,” DeSantis revealed. “I think Congress obviously has a right to get them.”
DeSantis is pushing his colleagues on the House Oversight Committee to subpoena Comey in order to obtain the memos.
DeSantis also echoed what a lot of frustrated supporters of the president have been saying from day one: “Any Obama holdover at any of these agencies, you’ve got to get them out of there because clearly they’re not on the same team and particularly on the [White House] National Security Council,” he said.
“I think Congress and some members on the Intelligence Committee can call Ben Rhodes to testify,” he continued. “He may be able to invoke executive privilege from when Obama was president, but he definitely can’t do that in any interactions he’s had since then.”
DeSantis said Rhodes and other senior Obama administration officials were “involved with feeding journalists some of these [leaks]. I believe he’s in touch with people on the National Security Council. It would be absolutely legitimate as part of leak investigation to bring him in and put him under oath, and I would absolutely support doing that.”