House ethics panel reviewed 2005 Harman conversation

By Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009 11:38 AM

The House ethics committee initiated a review this year of a 2005 conversation that Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) had with an Israeli operative in which she discussed winning help for her bid to become chairman of the House intelligence committee, according to newly available documents.

A July document from the committee obtained by The Washington Post lists more than a dozen lawmakers under review by the panel.

The ethics committee tried to get cooperation from federal authorities who captured Harman's conversation on secret tapes, but was rebuffed. The committee on June 9 authorized issuance of subpoenas to the Justice Department, the National Security Agency and the FBI for "certain intercepted communications."

Harman was reportedly heard agreeing to a request to try to obtain leniency for two pro-Israeli lobbyists in exchange for the agent's help in lobbying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to name her intelligence chairman. The Justice Department, a former U.S. official said, declined to respond to the subpoena.

Harman said she has not been contacted by the ethics committee and that she has no knowledge that the subpoena was ever issued. "I don't believe that's true," Harman said. "As far as I'm concerned, this smear has been over for three years."

In June 2009, a Justice official wrote in a letter to a lawyer for Harman that she was "neither a subject nor a target" of a criminal investigation.

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