House Intel Republicans plan to wall off their aides from Democratic staffers

House Intel Republicans plan to wall off their aides from Democratic staffers, by Olivia Gazis.

In a sign of increasing partisan hostilities, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee plan to construct a wall – a physical partition – separating Republican and Democratic staff members in the committee’s secure spaces, according to multiple committee sources. It’s expected to happen this spring. …

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Florida … said one reason for the tension is an erosion of trust … Bipartisanship, he said, “is gone. It’s gone from that committee.” …

While other House committees commonly have some divide between their majority and minority staff, for a committee whose history, broadly, and whose burden, arguably, is to be functionally bipartisan, the plan for the wall – in all its unfortunate symbolism – is a troubling sign of things to come.

It raises new questions about the committee’s ability to complete its sputtering investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and even to conduct its regular oversight of the country’s 17 intelligence agencies.

In recent weeks, rancorous and highly public disagreements between Republicans and Democrats have seemed often to disrupt and sometimes undo the committee’s investigative progress on the Russia probe in particular. The committee has not interviewed a witness since former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski cut his interview short on January 18. A day earlier, former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon did the same. Both, at the direction and apparent insistence of the White House, refused to answer questions beyond a certain scope.

Only Bannon has been issued a subpoena to reappear before the committee. So far, he has failed to do so three times.

In Bannon’s case, Republicans tend to express concern. “If we have a subpoena out there that’s being ignored and we just don’t do anything about it, guess what? Nobody’s going to come down to the [committee] anymore to answer questions,” Rooney said in a recent interview.