Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has called for top Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee to be included in an ethics investigation into leaked information.
The group argues that Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Jackie Speier of California both violated procedures by publicly confirming the existence of classified material, the Washington Examiner reported.
The call comes after Republican committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes of California was forced to recuse himself from the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. Nunes was accused of improperly divulging classified information to the public.
"If the standard for filing a complaint or opening an ethics investigation is that a member has commented publicly on matters that touch on classified information, but the member does not reveal the source of his or her information, then the complaints against Chairman Nunes are incomplete insofar as they target only Nunes," wrote Judicial Watch in a letter to the Office for Congressional Ethics. "At least two other members of the House Intelligence Committee have made comments about classified material that raise more directly the very same concerns raised against Chairman Nunes because they appear to confirm classified information contained in leaked intelligence community intercepts."
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Judicial Watch referred to comments by Schiff in March and Speier in April.
Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who is now a CNN commentator, agrees with Judicial Watch, saying Schiff's public remarks have overstepped the mark.
Schiff has emerged as one of the chief critics of President Donald Trump's alleged ties with Russia in the House. But he maintains that he is not being driven by partisan political considerations.
"This investigation is phenomenally important," Schiff told The Sacramento Bee. "We're in a real struggle between authoritarianism and autocracy and democracy and representative government. Right now autocracy is on the march."
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He added that his working relationship with Nunes has deteriorated.
"It's very strained, there's no avoiding it," he admitted.
Republicans have challenged Schiff's suggestion that he is not partisan.
"This new iteration of Adam is not the Adam I know," Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtanen of Florida said.
But congressional Democrats insist there is no one better to head up investigation of the Trump team.
"Among the 194 Democrats in the U.S. House I cannot imagine a single person who I would rather have as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee than Adam Schiff," Democratic Rep. Denny Heck of Washington told The Sacramento Bee.
Schiff's increased prominence has led to speculation he may run for the Senate seat of Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California if the 83-year-old steps down in 2018, a prospect Schiff has downplayed.
"I hope Senator Feinstein runs again. I think she's doing a great job. Her experience is more valuable now more than ever," said Schiff.