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spy stuff

A Republican congressman accidentally leaked classified information while railing against leaks

A New Yorker report has found that shortly after railing about leaks Monday, House Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stumbled into discussing classified information in a public setting himself. During the committee's hearing concerning Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election, Nunes emphasized his concern about White House leaks: "Who has leaked classified information?" he demanded. "We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so that these individuals can be brought to justice."

Later, in that same public hearing, Nunes asked FBI Director James Comey, "Do Russians historically prefer Republicans to win over Democrats?" Comey quickly shut Nunes down: "I'm not going to discuss in an unclassified forum," he said. Nunes had accidentally veered too far into publicly discussing classified information.

Then New York Rep. Peter King (R) followed up:

"I would just say on that because again, we're not going into the classified sections, that indicating that historically Russians have supported Republicans, and I know that language is there, to me puts somewhat of a cloud over the entire report," King said.

I didn't notice it at the time, though I was in the room, and the C-SPAN video of the hearing doesn't capture it, but Democrats told me there was, at this point, minor commotion on the dais. King had just revealed that the classified version of the report had concluded "that historically Russians have supported Republicans." [The New Yorker]

King later told The New Yorker: "I have to watch myself. I think it was in the public report that came out, the unclassified report, that there was a finding in there that historically — so don't quote me on this, okay? Because I'm not sure if this was the classified or the unclassified, but there was a conclusion that historically the Russians have favored Republicans." The conclusion was not reached in the public report, The New Yorker notes — and King's slip of the tongue could spark a serious debate, as it could indicate whether Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted President Trump in particular elected, or simply favored Trump's party.

Read the full report — and why the opposite conclusion might in fact be true — at The New Yorker.