Trump-Russia: Republicans trying to kill off investigation, says Adam Schiff
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The senior Democrat in a congressional Trump-Russia investigation has said he fears Republicans are manoeuvring to kill off inquiries into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
“I’m increasingly worried Republicans will shut down the House intelligence committee investigation at the end of the month,” said Adam Schiff, who is the leading Democrat on the House intelligence committee.
Schiff suggested Republicans also had their sights on the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller. The president’s personal lawyers are reportedly set to meet Mueller and his team within days to ask about the next steps in his investigation.
“Beyond our investigation, here’s what has me really concerned: the attacks on [Robert] Mueller, the DoJ [the Department of Justice] and FBI this week make it clear they plan to go after Mueller’s investigation,” Schiff said.
“By shutting down the congressional investigations when they continue to discover new and important evidence, the White House can exert tremendous pressure to end or curtail [Robert] Mueller’s investigation or cast doubt on it. We cannot let that happen.”
So far the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election has ensnared at least four members of the Trump campaign’s inner circle. Mueller is under no obligation to provide information to Trump’s lawyers when they meet, CNN has reported.
As Schiff was giving his warning, Trump again lashed out at the FBI inquiry into possible collusion between Moscow and his campaign, and declined to rule out pardoning former aide Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russia.
Trump denied there was any collusion with Russia, saying it was “a Democrat hoax”. He said it was too early to discuss any pardon for Flynn, his former national security adviser.
“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet,” Trump said before leaving the White House to give remarks at a graduation ceremony at the FBI’s academy in Quantico, Virginia.
“I can say this – when you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and with the justice department, people are very, very angry,” he said.
“When everybody – not me, when everybody – the level of anger at what they’ve been witnessing with respect to the FBI is certainly very sad.”
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s intelligence and cyber services worked to help turn the election in Trump’s favour.
Amid mounting evidence of campaign contacts with Russian operatives, Trump repeated his denial on Friday.
“There is absolutely no collusion. I didn’t make a phone call to Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia. Everybody knows it. That was a Democrat hoax. It was an excuse for losing the election,” he said.
Trump also blasted as “disgraceful” recently released text messages exchanged by an FBI agent and a lawyer involved in the probe who were critical of the president.
The agent, Peter Strzok, has been removed from the investigation being led by Mueller, a former FBI director.