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Washington, DC, Feb. 19, 2019 – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, released the following statement after Chairman Elijah Cummings issued an interim staff report after multiple whistleblowers came forward to warn about efforts inside the White House to rush the transfer of highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the Atomic Energy Act and without review by Congress as required by law:
“For the last two years, our committee has been concerned about allegations that the President and his advisors have been beholden to or sought to advance interests other than those of the American people, and that U.S. policy is being adversely impacted. The disturbing issues raised by credible whistleblowers in Chairman Cummings’ report go to the heart of these concerns.
“The report provides alarming evidence that, despite the best efforts of dedicated career officials and certain senior members of the Trump Administration, including National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, particular advisors of the President appear to have sought early in the administration to provide sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia by circumventing the established process and requirements mandated by Congress. They did so despite repeated admonitions by government lawyers that they should cease their efforts.
“We rely on those in government to make decisions based on the best interests of the nation, not for personal financial gain or to advance foreign interests. If the allegations are borne out, such an effort to enrich former business partners and benefit foreign governments is precisely the type of dangerous conflict of interest, serious compromise, and danger to national security that Congress has a duty to expose and root out.
“The report raises serious questions for which Congress which demand answers: What involvement did other senior Administration officials, including the President, and foreign actors, particularly the Saudi leadership, have in the effort to short-circuit the legal requirements for nuclear cooperation with the U.S.? Are backchannel efforts still underway, notwithstanding the alarms raised by ethics lawyers? What is driving this policy of subservience of American national security interests to the interests of Saudi Arabia?
“In the coming weeks and months, the House Intelligence Committee will coordinate with Chairman Cummings and the Committee on Oversight and Reform to fully explore these allegations of malfeasance and hold the Administration to account. If negotiations with Saudi Arabia are to continue, the Administration has an obligation to reach a 123 Agreement similar to the 2009 agreement reached with the United Arab Emirates that safeguards nuclear material and prevents a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
“Finally, it’s important to underscore that for decades, whistleblowers have come to Congress with allegations of waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption. These communications are protected, and often form the basis for some of our most important work in Congress — under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Any attempts to use this report, the whistleblowers’ disclosures, or revelations from any other Committee, to retaliate against the whistleblowers would represent a gross abuse of power by the Administration that will not go unanswered.”