QUIGLEY PRE­DICTS NO BOMB SHELLS AT HOUSE IN­TEL­LI­GENCE HEAR­ING

Chicago Sun-Times - - POLITICS - LYNN SWEET Fol­low Lynn Sweet on Twit­ter: @Lyn­nSweet Email: lsweet@sun­times.com

Don’t ex­pect big bomb­shells or deeply clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion to emerge from Mon­day’s long- awaited House In­tel­li­gence panel hear­ing into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the U. S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion— and other re­lated pos­si­ble spy­ing.

That’s ac­cord­ing to Rep. Mike Quigley, D- Ill., the only mem­ber from Illi­nois on the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, which is hold­ing its first hear­ing about Rus­sia’s role in the 2016 con­test.

FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency Di­rec­tor Mike Rogers will tes­tify on the record un­der oath start­ing at 9 a. m. Chicago time as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­plores as “fake news” sto­ries sug­gest­ing po­ten­tial links be­tween peo­ple in the Trump or­bit and Rus­sia.

I caught up with Quigley on Sun­day on what might oc­cur at the Mon­day ses­sion as he was board­ing a plane to fly from Chicago to Wash­ing­ton. Quigley has been on the In­tel panel for 2 ½ years.

The po­ten­tially sprawl­ing con­gres­sional probe is “far more ex­ten­sive than peo­ple are imag­in­ing,” Quigley told me.

He said the most im­por­tant ques­tion to ask is “was there col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sians?”

Quigley said Rus­sians should be taken in the broad sense— the of­fi­cial Rus­sian gov­ern­ment and other actors.

Quigley’s other takes

On whether se­crets will be re­vealed on Mon­day: “It’s im­por­tant to say this. This is an open hear­ing ( in con­trast to closed ses­sions where clas­si­fied ma­te­rial is dis­cussed), so these guys aren’t go­ing to re­veal some big se­cret.

“This is an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It’s go­ing to be a while, and I sus­pect that what we are go­ing to see Mon­day is more of a fram­ing of this— the scope of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion rather than some earth- shat­ter­ing thing.”

At the most, what might be learned on Mon­day? “You will see Comey re­but the no­tion of wire­tap­ping of Trump Tower,” the al­le­ga­tion Trump made in a se­ries of tweets two weeks ago.

The chair of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, Rep. Devin Nunes, R- Calif., has said there is no ev­i­dence of a Trump Tower wire­tap. Quigley agrees with the GOP chair­man on this one.

GOP fo­cus at the hear­ing: Repub­li­cans “will fo­cus their con­cerns about leaks” sur­fac­ing in news sto­ries about the Rus­sians and the elec­tion.

Quigley’s best guess: The GOP mem­bers may go down the road of push­ing Comey and Rogers to ex­plain “How do these leaks hap­pen? How are we in­ves­ti­gat­ing them and how do we pre­vent them in the fu­ture?

Demo­cratic fo­cus: Democrats’ lines of in­quiry will be about Rus­sian’s pos­si­ble col­lu­sion with “with the Trump po­lit­i­cal cam­paign and how do we pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing in the fu­ture.”

“. . . You will see in­di­vid­ual mem­bers from the Demo­cratic side fo­cus on in­di­vid­u­als in­volved with this is­sue.”

Those in the Trump or­bit: Democrats likely will raise ques­tions about Rus­sian links and could in­clude, Quigley said, for­mer Trump cam­paign man­ager Paul Manafort, for­mer NSA chief Mike Flynn and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions.

Quigley’s bot­tom line: “I am just look­ing for a thor­ough, thought­ful, bi­par­ti­san, bi­cam­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion that gets to the facts wher­ever they lead us.”

“. . . There is a lot of work in­volved, but we are go­ing to get to the bot­tom of this.”

The Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, also run by Repub­li­cans, is also look­ing into the mat­ter of Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­tion.

Does Quigley know se­crets? “I sus­pect ev­ery­one on the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee has been briefed on things that are not pub­licly known.”

ASHLEE REZIN/ SUN- TIMES FILE

U. S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D- Ill., is on the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, which has a hear­ing on Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence. “There is a lot of work in­volved, but we are go­ing to get to the bot­tom of this,” he says.

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