With an assist from Daniella Diaz
DIALING DOD FOR ANSWERS — Washington is reeling from the leak of highly classified information on the next phases of Ukraine’s strategy against Russia.
Allies are confused, the Pentagon is “shocked” and the National Security Council doesn’t know if it’s contained. Congress has questions.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) was briefed Monday evening on the breach and said his committee “will continue to follow this situation closely.”
But Warner also urged caution. “Americans should remember that Russia has a long history of disinformation efforts and it would be wise to be wary of trusting any claims they see online relating to these documents,” he said in a statement to POLITICO. Don’t believe everything you see on the internet is usually sound advice.
House Armed Services Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said his panel “is actively seeking answers from the Department of Defense” and called the leaks “incredibly concerning.”
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Senate Armed Services Committee Chair, has requested a briefing from the Defense Department, but it wasn’t locked in as of last night according to a spokesperson. His full panel “expects to be fully briefed on the Pentagon’s investigation as it proceeds.”
“Chairman Reed remains focused on supporting and sustaining the international effort to aid Ukraine in its fight to repel Russia’s illegal invasion,” a SASC spokesperson said Monday.
Leaders of the House Intelligence committee, Chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and ranking member Jim Himes (D-Conn.), issued a joint statement confirming that the Defense Department is investigating and has referred the matter to the Justice Department.
“Protecting classified information is critical to our national security, and the DOD and Intelligence Community must work quickly to prevent any spillage and identify the source of any leak. We have requested additional information from the DOD and IC and expect the Committee to be briefed as the investigation proceeds,” said Turner and Himes.
Turner aired additional concerns on CNN Monday afternoon, saying that the number one goal at this point is damage control and how to adjust strategy now that Ukraine’s plans for a counter offensive have been made public.
“The concern we also have is what else is out there? And what is it that we don’t know? This is what’s been made public. What do we not know?” Turner told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
FROM THE DOCS — Back in mid-February, President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi of Egypt ordered up to 40,000 rockets to be covertly shipped to Russia, The Washington Post reported yesterday based on leaked intelligence documents. Right now there is not evidence that the shipment has happened. The instructions from Sisi include a directive to keep the shipment to Russia secret “to avoid problems with the West.”
And there would be plenty. Egypt is one of the closest allies the U.S. has in the Middle East and has recieved more than $1 billion a year in security aid.
GOOD MORNING! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this Tuesday, April 11, where recess is never as quiet as promised.
HUDDLE (LAST) WEEKLY MOST CLICKED: You wanted to see Rep. Dave Schweikert’s Succession cameo, closely followed by Nicholas and Jordain’s sit-down interview with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: From agitator to insider: The evolution of AOC
PRO FORMA CATCH-UP — Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) was in Washington Monday to preside over the Senate’s pro forma session and responded to the fresh news of a mass shooting at a bank in Louisville that left four people dead. “There’s a lot that the Senate can do on guns which have to get Republicans to vote for the well being of the American people versus the well being of the NRA and the gun lobby,” Duckworth told Daniella. “Frankly, we should have universal background checks. We should be banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines. We’ve had more mass shootings than there have been days in the year this year. And babies continue to die while they go to school. It’s simply not acceptable. And I call on my Republican colleagues to actually vote for the well-being of their constituents versus the right to the gun lobby.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) tweeted Monday that one of the four people killed, Tommy Elliot, was a friend of his and his banker. “He was my banker for many years. This news is very shocking and sad for Ann and me. He did so much in the Louisville community, and we pray for his family during this awful time,” wrote Scott.
BIG FIELD, SMALL STATE — There are now 10 candidates in the race for retiring Rep. David Cicilline’s (D-R.I.) seat. It’s shaping up to be an unpredictable race in the Ocean State, where the Democratic primary is set for Sept. 5. No Republicans have announced campaigns for the 1st District yet, though last year’s GOP nominee is running again – but as a Democrat. WPRI has the state-of-play.
GIFT REGISTRY, PLEASE — Senate Judiciary Democrats led by Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) are calling on Chief Justice John Roberts to open an investigation into Justice Clarence Thomas’s receipt of expensive gifts and luxury vacations. The panel said it plans on scheduling a hearing on the court’s ethical standards, but won’t stop there.
“If the Court does not resolve this issue on its own, the committee will consider legislation to resolve it. But you do not need to wait for Congress to act to undertake your own investigation into the reported conduct and to ensure that it cannot happen again,” they wrote.
ARIZONA ADVOCATES — Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and House Natural Resources Committee ranking member Raúl Grijalva are partnering up with the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition to call on President Joe Biden to use his authority to designate the tribal nations’ Grand Canyon homelands as the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. Tribal leaders have been working to protect the Grand Canyon region and have said they’ve wanted to establish a monument. Sinema and Grijalva have not always been political allies, but in Arizona, like in Alaska and other states with significant indigenous communities, advocacy on native issues can bring together unlikely political partners.
STOCK(ING) STUFFERS — Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) both reported stock trades related to their work on mitigation of fallout from the failures of Signature and Silicon Valley Banks, two of the largest bank failures in American history. The Wall Street Journal reports that Malliotakis bought stock in a regional bank before a subsidiary agreed to take over Signature’s deposits after its closure, a move she attributes to her financial adviser and not knowing that the regional bank planned to bid on Signature. Blumenauer reported three bank stock trades, which his office said was made by his wife as part of her retirement portfolio and he wasn’t aware of the moves at the time.
‘Big beer’ strikes again: Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said he is boycotting Bud Light, posting a video showing a fridge stocked with beer from Karbach Brewing Company — a Houston brewery owned by Bud Light maker Anheuser-Busch InBev.
ICYMI: How Congress Got Smart on Tech, from Washington Monthly
Rep. Elise Stefanik Introduces Legislation To Protect Single-Sex Organizations On College Campuses, from Henry Rodgers from The Daily Caller
Grace Kim is now national security adviser for Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.). She was previously a policy adviser in the office of the undersecretary of the Defense for policy.
TODAY IN CONGRESS
The House and Senate are out.
AROUND THE HILL
The last few days of quiet.
MONDAY’S WINNER: Peter Roff correctly answered that while William Howard Taft was the first President to throw the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game, Ronald Reagan was the first to throw a pitch from the mound. ESPN with the light roast: “Reagan, who soft-tossed the ball from the mound at Wrigley Field in 1988.”
TODAY’S QUESTION from Peter: Vice President Dick Cheney made headlines when he accidentally shot a man he was hunting birds with. Strangely enough, he wasn’t the first vice president to have shot someone while in office. Who was – and who did he shoot?
The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your answers to [email protected]
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The recent leak of highly classified information on the next phases of Ukraine’s strategy against Russia has left many people in Washington reeling. It’s clear that this breach has caused confusion among allies, shock at the Pentagon and uncertainty at the National Security Council. It’s understandable that Congress has questions, and it’s good to see that Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Mark Warner is taking this seriously. However, I do wonder how we can prevent these kinds of breaches from happening in the first place. Is there a way to better secure sensitive information so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands? It’s clear that we need to be cautious about disinformation efforts from Russia, but we also need to take steps to protect ourselves from these kinds of leaks. What do you think?