(Updates with FBI response in eighth paragraph.)
The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee joined 18 GOP senators in seeking an FBI probe into whether Colin Kahl, one of President Joe Biden’s Pentagon nominees, publicly disclosed classified or sensitive information on social media.
Jim Inhofe, the panel’s ranking member, said Tuesday he supports the request for an investigation and the Senate should review the results before voting on Kahl’s nomination.
“In top national security positions like Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, the duty to protect classified and sensitive information is an essential prerequisite for the job,” Inhofe said in a statement.
“Kahl’s growing record of apparent mishandling of classified information and controlled unclassified information and his evasive response regarding this issue fall short of the standard required for holding one of our nation’s top national security positions,” the senators, led by Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), said in a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray on Tuesday.
Kahl, national security adviser to then-Vice President Joe Biden before leaving government, has denied mishandling information and said his tweets relied on news reports.
“I have never publicly shared information I knew to be classified and take my obligations to protect classified information seriously,” Kahl wrote last month in a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate committee.
Cotton and Hagerty, in their letter to Wray, said that “by apparently soliciting or otherwise receiving classified information and controlled unclassified information from U.S. government officials serving in national security roles and repeatedly posting such information on social media websites, Kahl demonstrated disregard for security protocols that are designed to protect our national security interests.”
The FBI received the senators’ letter and has no further comment on it, Carol Cratty, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
Tie Vote in Committee
The Armed Services panel tied 13-13 last month in voting on Kahl’s nomination to be under secretary of defense for policy. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) can call for a “discharge” vote by the chamber to bring the nomination to the floor. The White House said it wouldn’t withdraw the nomination.
The GOP senators want the FBI to look into whether Kahl publicly disclosed classified information and controlled unclassified information; whether he discussed classified information and controlled unclassified information with U.S. government officials; or whether he solicited U.S. government officials to provide classified information and controlled unclassified information.
Kahl, in his response to the committee last month, referred to tweets that Hagerty said published sensitive information from National Security Council meetings while President Donald Trump was in office.
Kahl said his tweets cited publicly available information, including news articles, concerning operations in Yemen and Trump’s preferences for how he received his daily intelligence briefing.
To contact the reporter on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org