Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

GOP congressman warned of Russian threat as he advocates for Ukraine aid

By 37ci3 Feb15,2024

WASHINGTON – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner and House Speaker Mike Johnson have been worried for “weeks.” a national security threat It is related to the possibility that Russia has a nuclear-powered space asset Designed to target American satellitesSeveral sources told NBC News about it.

Johnson said Wednesday that the two had written to the White House and requested a meeting with President Joe Biden on the matter.

But Turner, R-Ohio, Johnson, R-La., surprised much of Capitol Hill and even his colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee by airing his concerns in a statement. cryptic statement Wednesday morning.

The decision to warn Americans of a “serious national security threat” without further details, while allowing all members of the House of Representatives to review the materials on the matter, was highly unusual, leaving many in Washington wondering why he would take such an unconventional step. step. On Thursday, Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn. Johnson asked Ordering an “investigation” into Turner’s statement, it said it was “made with reckless disregard for the implications and consequences the information would have on geopolitics, domestic and foreign markets, or the well-being and psyche of the American people.”

Multiple sources told NBC News that Turner put out the statement to light a fire under his colleagues in Congress and the White House to deliver more aid to Ukraine and renew a major foreign surveillance program, two key issues currently pressing for the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Obstacles at home.

A Republican congressional aide said Turner was concerned and angered by the uncertainty over the fate of the proposed aid to Ukraine. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance ActA critical US spy power that Turner aggressively defended.

While he has long been concerned about how adversaries are pursuing space weapons, Turner used the statement Wednesday to remind his Republican colleagues of the serious threat posed by Russia, an aide said.

“He’s really frustrated with the speaker about Ukraine, and this was a way to focus on the threat posed by Russia,” the aide said.

Johnson has yet to say how he will handle the Senate-passed $95 billion national security bill that includes funding for Ukraine amid growing GOP resistance to aid to the country, which has been fighting Russian aggression nearly two years after the war began. On Tuesday, Johnson introduced legislation that would reauthorize Section 702, facing opposition from some conservatives and progressive Democrats who say the bill does not address Americans’ privacy concerns.

In a new statement, Turner said his reason for bringing the matter up publicly was to pressure the administration to declassify the material for the benefit of America’s allies. He said he was “working in consultation with the Biden Administration to inform Congress” of the threat, adding that the language in the notice he issued Wednesday had been scrubbed by the administration. The House Intelligence Committee voted 23-1 to release the information to members.

According to a source directly involved in the matter in Congress, Turner’s move was likely related to pressuring the administration to focus more on the national security threat, an issue he has discussed. Two additional sources believe Turner’s efforts could provide immediate relief over a lack of consensus in Congress and money to Ukraine, telling NBC News that the issues addressed by the Ukraine aid bill are “unrelated but not directly related” to national security. The threat posed by Russia’s military potential in space.

Turner’s Democratic colleague on the House Intelligence panel, Jim Himes of Connecticut, told NBC News that he told Turner he believed the threat should not be made public, but Turner was not listening when he issued his public statement on Wednesday.

The source added that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Himes, caught off guard by Turner’s testimony, generally knew the statement was coming.

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, was on Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon to brief Johnson, Turner, Himes and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., on the so-called “Gang of Four” about the premeditated national security threat. was meeting According to a US official and a congressional official familiar with the intelligence, the threat is related to a weaponized Russian nuclear-powered spacecraft, as opposed to a nuclear bomb that Russia is trying to send into space.

Russia has not provided such an asset, but officials have said the country is taking worrisome steps.

After the meeting, Turner called it “Russia’s anti-satellite weapon” and “all of us got a very strong impression that the administration is taking this very seriously and that the administration has a plan. … I have great faith in what the administration is doing right now to address this issue.”

Johnson and Himes echoed Turner’s praise for the meeting. “There are steady hands on the wheel,” Johnson said.

Senate leaders will likely receive their briefings, but the chamber is away from Washington on recess.

Sullivan also met with members of Congress on Wednesday as part of a previously scheduled briefing on the need to reauthorize Section 702.

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By 37ci3

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