Two Republican senators that Hillary Clinton’s top campaign spokesman accused on Wednesday of coordinating leaks with the Intelligence community’s inspector general, I. Charles McCullough III, to smear the former secretary of state are vehemently denying the allegations.
Brian Fallon, who serves as Clinton’s communications director, accused McCullough of being in cahoots with North Carolina Sen. [crscore]Richard Burr[/crscore] and Tennessee Sen. [crscore]Bob Corker[/crscore], the chairmen of the Senate Intelligence and Senate Foreign Relations Committees, respectively.
The Clinton flak was agitated by a Fox News report published on Tuesday that McCullough sent a letter on Jan. 14 to Burr and Corker stating that agents working within the intelligence community signed declarations stating that they found “several dozen” emails housed on Clinton’s private server which contained highly classified information.
Some of the emails contain intelligence from “special access programs,” McCullough noted. That type of intelligence is classified at a higher level than “top secret” information and is restricted to officials on a “need to know” basis.
Fallon saw a vast right-wing conspiracy behind the release, telling CNN: “I think this was a very coordinated leak yesterday.”
Asked to defend his claim, Fallon implied that McCullough, an Obama appointee, was seeking to redeem himself in response to a Politico report published late last year which “directly challenged” findings laid out in a letter he sent to Congress in July stating that two emails containing “top secret” information had been found on Clinton’s unsecured, home-brew server.
The “top secret” emails are in addition to the emails containing “special access programs” intelligence.
The Clinton campaign and the State Department disputed the “top secret” designation. And Politico reported in November that the intelligence community was retreating from that classification decision.
“I don’t think he liked that very much,” Fallon said of McCullough. “So I think that he put two Republican senators up to sending him a letter so that he would have a excuse to resurface the same allegations he made back in the summer that have been discredited.” (RELATED: Hillary’s Campaign Accuses Intel IG Of Coordinating With GOP On Damning Email Reports)
McCullough’s letter last week indeed was a response to inquiries from Burr and Corker to find out more about the classified information found on Clinton’s server. The two Republicans wrote a letter to McCullough in November, after Politico published its report doubting the watchdog’s “top secret” findings, questioning the State Department’s email review process.
Fox News reported last month that the intelligence community conducted another review of the emails containing the “top secret” information and reaffirmed its determination.
In leveling his accusations, Fallon provided no evidence that McCullough provoked the lawmakers to send him a new letter so that he could take another shot at Clinton.
But Burr and Corker responded to Fallon’s claims.
“I didn’t conspire with anybody,” Burr told reporters on Wednesday.
Intel Cmte Chairman Burr rejects notion he worked w/ ICIG to leak info about Clinton's SAP emails. "I didn't conspire with anybody."
— Ali Weinberg (@AliABCNews) January 20, 2016
“There’s no conspiracy or collusion between Bob Corker and I and the IG,” he added, according to Politico.
Corker echoed Burr, telling reporters that he and his colleague “have worked in a very very confidential manner to try and understand what is happening and try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
“I don’t even know who the IG is,” he said, adding “I know his name, but I’ve never met him.”
Fallon’s accusations against McCullough sparked an immediate response from Republicans who pointed out that the watchdog is an Obama appointee who received high praise from Democrats during his confirmation.
A former FBI special agent and a former assistant inspector general at the National Security Agency, McCullough was Obama’s first pick to serve as inspector general of the Intelligence Community, a role created in 2010. He was nominated in Aug. 2011. The Senate Intelligence Committee approved the nomination by a vote of 15-0, and McCullough took office that November.
California Sen. [crscore]Dianne Feinstein[/crscore], a Democrat, praised McCullough from the floor of the Senate upon his appointment, calling him “well-qualified to be this first ICIG.”
NBC News noted that McCullough donated $1,000 to George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign.
A spokeswoman for McCullough declined to respond to Fallon’s comments, telling The Daily Caller, “We’re just very focused on our role in getting this review completed.”