Updated 5:27 p.m. | The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee torched the CIA in a floor speech Tuesday, charging the agency with spying on her committee’s computers in a possibly illegal search she said has been referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution.
The on-the-record allegations by Sen. Dianne Feinstein shook the Senate, with lawmakers in both parties warning of serious fallout if proved true. And her speech put the Department of Justice and the White House in an awkward spot between CIA Director John O. Brennan, who later denied the allegation of spying, and Feinstein, who has been a strong backer of the intelligence community generally and of President Barack Obama.
During her speech, the California Democrat said she learned from Brennan in a Jan. 15 meeting that the CIA improperly searched committee computer files as the committee neared the end of its yearslong investigation of the CIA’s interrogation and detainee practices, confirming several media reports. She said the incident has been referred to the Department of Justice. But Feinstein was also riled by a separate referral by the CIA to Justice suggesting that committee staff had improperly received classified information.