Skip to comments.Republican Aide Improperly Got Democratic Memos[Hatch aide]
Posted on 11/25/2003 6:04:46 PM PST by the caption king
Filed at 8:10 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top U.S. Senate Republican expressed ``deep regret'' on Tuesday in announcing that an internal investigation of computer records found one of his staffers had ``improperly accessed'' Democratic documents.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said he placed the staffer on administrative leave with pay pending a separate probe by the Senate sergeant at arms, Bill Pickle.
Hatch, who had initially ridiculed the allegations, also said a former staffer ``may also have been involved,'' but declined to identify either person by name.
``I am mortified that this improper, unethical and simply unacceptable breach of confidential files may have occurred on my watch,'' the Utah Republican told a news conference.
Hatch said the staffer who got access to the memos denied giving them to the news media and it remained unclear how reporters got them.
The disclosure came a week after congressional law enforcement authorities began looking into what Democrats called an apparent computer theft of 14 staff memos critical of President Bush's embattled judicial nominees.
The Democratic memos were quoted in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times earlier this month.
According to the memos, Democrats on Hatch's panel conferred with liberal groups in opposing Bush's most conservative judicial nominees.
Hatch had suggested that the memos had been turned over to the news media by a ``conscience-stricken'' Democratic staffer.
But the senator said on Tuesday that after the Democratic concerns were voiced, he had ``two experienced federal prosecutors'' assigned to his panel interview about 50 people even as computer records were secured.
``It is with deep regret I must report today the interviews conducted to date have revealed that at least one current member of Judiciary Committee majority staff had improperly accessed at least some of the documents referenced in the media reports,'' Hatch said.
Democrats on Hatch's committee said through a spokeswoman they were ``saddened and disappointed to have their suspicions confirmed that Republican staff violated the privacy of Senate computer files.''
The spokeswoman, Tracy Schmaler, also said, ``The investigation that counts is the one being conducted by the Senate Sergeant at Arms.''
``Democratic members ... look forward to the results of that ongoing investigation when it is completed so that all can know the full extent of this violation and wrongdoing,'' she said.
It's possible but Hatch wasn't addressing that memo which is what I pointed out. Hannity also said that we wouldn't believe who gave him the Intel memo (as I recall). Certainly a Republican staffer wouldn't be a surprise.