House Intelligence Committee Democrat Joaquín Castro said Wednesday that Republican Chairman Devin Nunes dismissed his suggestion that members of his party should be in on a classified briefing Thursday on the Russia probe.
When Castro, a third-term representative from Texas, asked Nunes about Democrats attending the session, the chairman told him: "I'm not going to play that game."
Castro disclosed the Nunes comment to CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju, who reported and tweeted the remark:
Under pressure from President Donald Trump, White House chief of staff John Kelly brokered the meeting between Nunes, who represents California, and Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, and Justice Department officials on classified information regarding the Moscow investigation.
They will meet Thursday with Justice leaders, as well as those of the FBI and the intelligence community.
The executive branch officials scheduled to attend are Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O'Callaghan.
Kelly is not attending — and no Democrats have been included.
Castro later slammed Thursday's meeting as "a Trump legal defense team huddle, so they can figure out what's out there and then assess it."
"There's basically been information that's been shared," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "President Trump, I think, is using people in the legislative branch, including Devin Nunes, to do his dirty work."
But Raju also reported that some Senate Republicans believe they should also be invited, with Oklahoma GOP Sen. James Lankford also saying that Democrats should be present.
"On the Senate side, we work hard to make sure Republicans and Democrats work together — because, at the end of the day, we have to resolve these issues in a bipartisan manner.
"Not every American can look at all of these issues," he said.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa said President Trump should require members of both parties to attend.
"Anything that comes from every president and everybody he appoints to these Cabinet positions, so I'm talking about Republican or Democrat, every one of them comes before a committee and said we'll cooperate with congressional oversight," he told Raju.
"So, if his people that he appoints said that they were going to cooperate with congressional oversight, then he has a responsibility to make sure they do cooperate."
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