The House’s No. 2 Democrat spoke carefully on Tuesday when addressing Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s accusations that the CIA tapped into Senate Intelligence Committee computer files.
“First of all, it’s a serious allegation, and Sen. Feinstein is a serious legislator, so I don’t think she made it lightly” said Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., of Feinstein, a California Democrat who serves as chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence panel.
“On the other hand,” Hoyer continued, “John Brennan, director of the CIA … specifically and categorically said, ‘This did not happen.‘ But it’s a serious allegation, and it would be a serious breach between the executive and legislative branches if this in fact occurred.
“I haven’t made a conclusion that, ‘yes or no,’ but I do believe, when Sen. Feinstein, who is a very responsible legislator, asserts this, then it bears very careful investigation and scrutiny and determination as to whether it’s true,” said Hoyer. “If it’s true, it’s very serious.”
Hoyer made his remarks at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing with reporters. Just a few hours earlier, Feinstein delivered a speech on the Senate floor confirming previous reports that the CIA breached classified committee information in a manner that “may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States constitution, including speech and debate.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said at his daily news conference that “the President has great confidence in John Brennan” and the intelligence community but would not comment on the specifics of the Feinstein allegations. He would only say that the White House takes “seriously” what she says and the issue is under review.