FBI Memo Should Have Remained Classified, Manchin Says

WHEELING — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin — a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee — says the intelligence memo released Friday by Rep. Devin Nunes with the blessing of officials in the White House should not have been made public.

Nunes, R-Calif., is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Speaking in Wheeling on Friday, Manchin, D-W.Va., said he only knows how the Senate Intelligence Committee works.

When there is a concern about national security — in this case, alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections — information is gathered from nine different intelligence communities.

Among these are the FBI and CIA, and their information must all align to be of interest to the committee, according to Manchin.

“You can’t have four telling you one thing, and five saying we disagree,” he said. “Those nine have to hook up. When they hook up, that’s something of national or international concern.

“Then we do our due diligence in our committee room, and we move forward in a bipartisan way.”

Nunes has taken the memo “to a strictly hardcore, political position,” and he has not revealed the source from whom the memo came, according to Manchin.

“If you have sources, they’re supposed to come from the intelligence committee,” he said. “He wouldn’t work with the FBI. He had his own source.”

Nunes also didn’t share his information with the Senate Information Committee, he said.

Manchin’s comment came after addressing students at Wheeling Central Catholic High School to close out the last day of Catholic Schools week on Friday.

He told them there are 15 members on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I can’t even speak to the other 85 senators when I hear news,” Manchin. “That’s how tough clearance is.”

The committee meets in a small conference room that has leaded panels in its walls, he said. There is no technology present, and everything spoken or revealed in the room is classified.

“But what we do is make decisions on how we want to oversee the security of the nation,” he said. “So, when you hear people say, don’t trust this or don’t trust that … that’s not the way the system is supposed to work.”

When the information from the intelligence community all intersects, “then we know we have something that we can stake our lives to.”

And Democrats and Republicans have to agree on the information, according to Manchin.

“When you hear all this other stuff going on, it didn’t go through that process,” he said.

Manchin told the students as divided as the country may seem today, it was worse 50 years ago and America pulled together to overcome it.

He remembered during the 1960s, there was violence on the streets of major American cities, and the shootings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

“I lived through John F. Kennedy getting assassinated,” Manchin said. “I was 16 years old, and my view of the world changed.

“If someone could kill a United States president … it just changed me forever, thinking of the possibilities.”

Manchin said he was skeptical then the country would rise up to bridge its differences — but it did, and will again, he said.