Former CIA director Leon Panetta. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Five former top U.S. intelligence officials, who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, warn against plans for Justice Department officials to hold a GOP-only briefing about the role of a 2016 informant in the FBI's Russia investigation.

The latest plan: A briefing for two Republican House members, with a separate briefing added for the bipartisan "Gang of Eight” lawmakers who are traditionally briefed on intelligence matters.

The letter is to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi:

  • "Congressional oversight of counterintelligence investigations is one of the most important and sensitive functions of the Intelligence Committees in Congress. Traditionally, intelligence and law enforcement agencies are exceedingly careful in briefing the Committees about active counterintelligence investigations, given the sensitivity of the operational activity, the need to protect human sources, and the privacy interests of any Americans who may be involved. In our experience, such Executive Branch briefings have always been bipartisan."
  • "When oversight activity is bipartisan, it can serve as an important check on government activity. When congressional oversight is overly partisan — or focused on undermining important counterintelligence investigations — we worry about inappropriate political influence on the investigators and the erosion of a bipartisan approach to intelligence and national security. Any effort to exclude one party or the other from sensitive counterintelligence oversight briefings threatens to undermine the oversight function and sends the wrong signal about the professional, non-political manner that must govern U.S. intelligence activities."
  • "We urge you to allow congressional oversight activities to proceed in a fully bipartisan manner and to resist efforts to politicize intelligence oversight for the benefit of one party or another. Our national security depends on strong bipartisan congressional oversight."

The letter is signed by:

  • Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense and former CIA director
  • James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence
  • Michael Hayden, former CIA director
  • John Brennan, former CIA director
  • John McLaughlin, former acting CIA director

Go deeper

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 20,755,406 — Total deaths: 752,225— Total recoveries: 12,917,934Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 5,246,760 — Total deaths: 167,052 — Total recoveries: 1,774,648 — Total tests: 64,831,306Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats to investigate scientist leading "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine projectMcConnell announces Senate will not hold votes until Sept. 8 unless stimulus deal is reached.
  4. 2020: Biden calls for 3-month national mask mandateBiden and Harris to receive coronavirus briefings 4 times a week.
  5. States: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to drop lawsuit over Atlanta's mask mandate.
  6. Business: Why the CARES Act makes 2020 the best year for companies to lose money.
  7. Public health: Fauci's guidance on pre-vaccine coronavirus treatments Cases are falling, but don't get too comfortable.

Trump says he intends to give RNC speech on White House lawn

President Trump speaking to reporters on South Lawn in July. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump told the New York Post on Thursday that he plans to deliver his Republican National Convention speech from the White House lawn, despite bipartisan criticism of the optics and legality of the location.

Why it matters: Previous presidents avoided blurring staged campaign-style events — like party conventions — with official business of governing on the White House premises, per Politico.

Fauci's guidance on pre-vaccine coronavirus treatments

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Antibody drugs and various medicine cocktails against the coronavirus are progressing and may provide some relief before vaccines.

The big picture: Everyone wants to know how and when they can return to "normal" life, as vaccines are not expected to be ready for most Americans for at least a year. Two therapies are known to be helpful, and more could be announced by late September, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci tells Axios.