That big gotcha Fox News thought it had last month when it obtained some private text messages from Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, may have just backfired on Operation War On Russia Investigation. Not only was there no Warner scandal, it turns out those messages were leaked by none other than the Devin Nunes gang.
You may recall Chief National Correspondent Ed Henry’s “exclusive” over the texts:
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who has been leading a congressional investigation into President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, had extensive contact last year with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch who was offering Warner access to former British spy and dossier author Christopher Steele, according to text messages obtained exclusively by Fox News.
Steele famously put together the anti-Trump dossier of unverified information that was used by FBI and Justice Department officials in October 2016 to get a warrant to conduct surveillance of former Trump adviser Carter Page. Despite the efforts, Steele has not agreed to an interview with the committee.
Secrecy seemed very important to Warner as the conversation with Waldman [the lobbyist] heated up March 29, when the lobbyist revealed that Steele wanted a bipartisan letter from Warner and the committee’s chairman, North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, inviting him to talk to the Senate intelligence panel.
Of course, what Henry was getting at here was that Warner was in some secret kind of cahoots with Steele to undermine Trump’s presidency. Unfortunately for Henry’s big “scoop,” it soon fell apart (before I ever had a chance to write about it) when Warner’s Republican colleague, Senator Marco Rubio smacked it down with a tweet saying that Warner had “fully disclosed” his efforts to the Committee. As Vox noted, even Henry acknowledged that, though he buried that information way down in his report.
Today, we found out that Henry did not obtain those texts through old-fashioned reporting. They dropped in his lap courtesy of the House Intelligence Committee Republicans and almost certainly via Devin Nunes.
The New York Times explains why this was no ordinary leak:
The Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee were behind the leak of private text messages between the Senate panel’s top Democrat and a Russian-connected lawyer, according to two congressional officials briefed on the matter.
Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat, were so perturbed by the leak that they demanded a rare meeting with Speaker Paul D. Ryan last month to inform him of their findings. They used the meeting with Mr. Ryan to raise broader concerns about the direction of the House Intelligence Committee under its chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, the officials said.
To the senators, who are overseeing what is effectively the last bipartisan investigation on Capitol Hill into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the leak was a serious breach of protocol and a partisan attack by one intelligence committee against the other.
According to the Times, a staff member for House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes requested copies of the text messages from the Senate committee days before the Fox report. The Times verified that the leaked messages came from the House committee by comparing markings.
I have previously reported on evidence of collaboration between Nunes and Sean Hannity. Why wouldn’t others at Fox be in on it as well?
In her post about this latest Nunes-capade, Crooks and Liars’ Frances Langum wrote today, “Maybe someday there will be an investigation of collusion between Congressional Republicans and Fox News. Those texts for sure contain some bombshells.”
We need that investigation sooner rather than later.
Watch Henry’s giddy report below, from the February 8, 2018 The Story with Martha MacCallum.