The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked his staff Wednesday to look into whether Texas Sen. Ted Cruz leaked classified information Tuesday night during a heated exchange with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at a Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas.
The committee's chairman, Richard Burr of North Carolina, said questions from his staff emerged after Cruz made a claim during an argument with Rubio about the new USA Freedom Act, which Cruz supported and Rubio opposed.
Cruz said that "nearly 100 percent" of phone numbers can be checked for terror ties under the new program, compared with "20 percent to 30 percent" under earlier Patriot Act provisions.
Rubio responded that national television is not the place to discuss classified information, before going on to dispute Cruz's suggestions.
Becca Glover Watkins, Burr's communications director, quickly tweeted that Cruz might have said something he shouldn't have, though she didn't specifically reference his comments.
Cruz shouldn't have said that.
— Becca Glover Watkins (@beccaglover) December 16, 2015
Burr said that any time specific numbers are discussed a question emerges as to whether it's classified or open source.
"The question had been raised. Therefore I asked them to look at it and see if there was any validity to it," Burr told reporters.
A spokesperson for Ted Cruz told Fox News Latino that the Texas lawmaker did not say anything in the debate that had not been previously reported, citing articles in both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal that mention the 30 percent and 20 percent figures respectively.
Burr added: "It's not as clear as just reading what he said. We've got to search all sorts of media outlets to see if anyone had reported that number independently."
Burr said he'd be "a lot more worried" if Cruz were actually a member of the Intelligence Committee, which Rubio is. He said as far as he knows the subject matter has not been briefed to lawmakers outside the committee.
Burr noted that he had not actually seen the exchange in question. "'The Voice' was on. It was the final episode," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.