Schiff Reopens Intel Panel Probe into Russia-Trump, Gives Mueller Past Interview Transcripts
WASHINGTON -- The House Intelligence Committee under Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is reopening the Russia campaign influence probe closed by former Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and the panel's first order of business is sending all probe-related interview transcripts from the 115th Congress to special counsel Robert Mueller "with no restrictions on their use."
“The committee also plans to release to the public all investigation transcripts, as it is committed to providing the American public with greater transparency and insight into Russia’s operations and the U.S. government’s response," Schiff said after the Intelligence Committee met today. "To protect ongoing investigative interests and information that remains classified, the committee will release transcripts in a manner and according to a timetable that allows continued pursuit of important leads and testimony, while ensuring that the American people have faith in the process and can assess for themselves the evidence that has been uncovered, while legitimate national security interests continue to be protected."
“As chairman of the committee, I am committed to leading a thorough and impartial investigation that will follow the facts, and I hope that our minority counterparts will join us in that effort," he added. "Congress has a duty to expose foreign interference, hold Russia to account, ensure that U.S. officials – including the president – are serving the national interest and, if not, are held accountable.”
House Intelligence Committee Republicans said in a joint statement that they're "happy" about making "all the transcripts available to the executive branch, including the Special Counsel’s office, as part of the process of publishing them for the American people to see."
They criticized the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassification review of documents already approved for release in the last Congress as "unacceptable," and added that "we hope the Democrats will now join us in further increasing transparency by voting to immediately publish all the unclassified transcripts that we previously sent to the executive branch."
"Additionally, we call on our Democratic colleagues to grant our request to subpoena numerous witnesses whose testimony the Democrats had previously sought in connection with the committee’s Russia investigation," the GOPs added.
Schiff said that during the 115th Congress, the Nunes-led panel "began to pursue credible reports of money laundering and financial compromise related to the business interests of President Trump, his family, and his associates" that underscored "the need to determine whether he or those in his administration have acted in service of foreign interests since taking office," but "unfortunately, these and numerous other avenues of inquiry were not completed during the last Congress."
The Republican majority in the last Congress ended the probe in March, stating that they agreed with the intelligence community's assessment of Russia's campaign influence operation "except with respect to Putin's supposed preference for candidate Trump."
At the time, Trump tweeted in all caps, "THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION."
Schiff said the scope of the new investigation "will focus principally on five interconnected lines of inquiry, beginning with these incomplete or unexamined investigative threads":
- "The scope and scale of the Russian government’s operations to influence the U.S. political process, and the U.S. government’s response, during and since the 2016 election;
- The extent of any links and/or coordination between the Russian government, or related foreign actors, and individuals associated with Donald Trump’s campaign, transition, administration, or business interests, in furtherance of the Russian government’s interests;
- Whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates;
- Whether President Trump, his family, or his associates are or were at any time at heightened risk of, or vulnerable to, foreign exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure, or coercion, or have sought to influence U.S. government policy in service of foreign interests; and
- Whether any actors – foreign or domestic – sought or are seeking to impede, obstruct, and/or mislead authorized investigations into these matters, including those in the Congress."
Schiff said the committee "may pursue additional lines of inquiry regarding matters that arise from the investigation, and it intends to cooperate with other congressional committees, as needed, on matters of overlapping interest," and also "plans to develop legislation and policy reforms to ensure the U.S. government is better positioned to counter future efforts to undermine our political process and national security."