Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee said Friday they will ask the full House to vote to investigate Speaker Jim Wright on charges that he improperly disclosed a secret CIA operation in Nicaragua.
The six lawmakers said they were taking the unusual step because efforts to launch an investigation of Wright through the intelligence and ethics committees had been stymied by the House's Democratic majority.But Democrats responded angrily, charging that the move was motivated by politics and by frustrations of Contra supporters over the perilous state of the rebels.
"I think it's mean, I think it's ugly, and I think it's beneath the dignity of the members of this House," said Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich.
The situation appeared to promise a showdown on the House floor next week, with Democrats seeking to focus on the wisdom of Reagan administration policies in Nicaragua and GOP members seeking to press their case against the speaker.
"Many of us in the Congress have been deeply concerned about the possibility that the speaker's comments a week ago concerning alleged CIA activities in Nicaragua constitute a breach of security and an unauthorized disclosure of classified information," said Rep. Dick Cheney, R-Wyo., the No. 3 official in the House GOP leadership.
"Absolutely no action has been taken to date, and there appears little prospect for action by the majority party," Cheney said.