But press secretary Jay Carney said that the White House did not intervene or offer an opinion on how to handle the matter.
“The CIA director and general counsel informed the White House that they were making a referral to the Department of Justice,” Carney told reporters on Wednesday. “They also said that they would be informing the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. And as you would expect in this matter, and as appropriate, we did not weigh in on that, but were certainly, were simply given a heads up about the referral.”
Carney did not offer a timeline but said that the notice came “shortly before” the matter was referred to the DOJ.
He added that President Obama had been “aware in general about the protocols and the discussions and occasional disputes” over the sharing of classified documents between the CIA and Intelligence Committee.
The White House has tried to remain on the sidelines in the dispute between the upper chamber and intelligence agency, offering support for CIA Director John Brennan but declining to say whether they believe Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein’s claims that the CIA spied on her panel’s computers.
Brennan has denied those claims, with the CIA separately alleging that Intelligence panel staffers gained improper access to classified documents.
Feinstein’s committee is conducting an investigation into the use of torture in interrogations under former President George W. Bush.
Senators from both parties have called Feinstein's allegations serious, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., calling for Brennan to apologize. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said that if the allegations were proved true, that could require a shake-up at the CIA from “top to bottom.”
The White House has said only that the practices being reviewed by the panel were conducted under the former administration and were opposed by Obama and that they want the Senate report declassified.
“The president's number-one focus in all of this has been to ensure that the committee is able to do its investigation, to complete its investigation and, upon completion of that investigation, to submit it for declassification,” Carney said.