Top Democrat wants 30 more witnesses to be called for House intel investigation
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that Democrats on the panel would continue their investigation into President Donald Trump and Russia, releasing a list of more than two dozen witnesses the committee has not called.
His comments came after the Republican in charge of the Russia investigation sought to clarify the conclusion from the committee’s Republicans that Russia was not trying to help Trump get elected president.
Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican running the panel’s Russia probe, acknowledged that Russia was, in fact, trying to hurt the chances of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — but he said whether one concludes it was designed to help Trump get elected president is a “glass half full, glass half empty” thing.
Conaway responded to CNN questions about the GOP report announced Monday that concludes the intelligence community’s assessment did not have sufficient evidence supporting its finding that Trump was aided by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The GOP report concludes that they agree with 98% of the intelligence community’s January 2017 assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, according to a committee aide, and a summary states the committee’s Republicans concurred “with the Intelligence Community Assessment’s judgments, except with respect to Putin’s supposed preference for candidate Trump.”
The concern Republicans had, Conaway said, was with the “analytical tradecraft” the CIA used on that part of the assessment because the standards the CIA used “were not lived up to.”
Conaway said Putin “was trying to hurt (Clinton) or make her more difficult to be an effective president.”
Asked how special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of the Russians might make the case that the Russians sought to help Trump, he said: “that is pretty irrelevant; we are doing our work.”
Schiff responded to the Republican announcement Monday that they were ending the Russia investigation with a “status report” that detailed all the areas Democrats feel the committee has failed to investigate
Schiff argued there has been “significant evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, citing events like the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. But he said he does not know if it rises to the level of a criminal violation beyond a reasonable doubt because they don’t know what Mueller knows.
The Republican report concludes there was no evidence of collusion between Trump’s team and Russia.
Schiff said that Republicans “prematurely shut down the Russia investigation” and said Democrats would try to continue their investigation into Trump and Russia.
The California Democrat called the GOP draft report “another Nunes memo in long form,” and said the Democrats were drafting their own long-form report that will be released with witness transcripts attached.
The 21-page status report document released Tuesday included a list of 30 witnesses Democrats want to call, from White House aides past and present to officials linked to the NRA, the campaign’s digital operation and the Trump Tower meeting.
The update also argues the committee failed to investigate matters like Trump’s finances and failed to answer questions like whether the Trump campaign had advance knowledge of Russia’s email hacking. The Democrats say there are 20 entities they should request documents from and 15 subpoenas that should be issued.
While Republicans have ended interviews for the Russia probe, Schiff suggested that Democrats could restart the investigation next year should they take back the House.
“If the majority in the Congress changes hand, we’ll have to evaluate where is the investigation at that point,” Schiff said. “What has the Senate been allowed to do, what has the special counsel been allowed to do, and determine if there is work that is still undone.”