President Donald Trump’s tweets may be able to drive a news cycle, but they won’t impact how the House Intelligence Committee carries out its investigation into Russia’s election interference, the panel’s ranking Democrat said Wednesday.
Trump’s campaign adviser Carter Page, with a tweeted assist from Trump, criticized the committee this week for slow-rolling its probe, claiming that plans to interview him were delayed.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that it was up to him and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), who took the lead on the probe after committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) temporarily stepped down due to ethics complaints, to decide if and when witnesses would be brought in to testify. The investigation includes looking into Russia’s election meddling as well as potential collusion between Trump campaign associates and Kremlin operatives.
“Mr. Conaway and I have agreed to review relevant documents before interviewing witnesses, as you would expect in a comprehensive investigation,” Schiff said in a statement. “And while we anticipate interviews to begin shortly, we have agreed that the pace of those interviews will be dictated by the needs of the investigation and not the preferences of outside parties.”
The California Democrat got a bit sassier on Twitter, where he chided Trump for claiming that “the Democrats” don’t want Page to testify or allow him to “clear his name.”
Along with a screenshot of Trump’s tweets, Schiff wrote, “.@POTUS, appreciate suggestion on witnesses but feel you may not have probe’s interests at heart. Ex: Firing FBI Dir because of Russia probe”
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 31, 2017
After abruptly dismissing former FBI Director James Comey, who he reportedly asked to swear loyalty to him earlier this year, Trump reportedly boasted to visiting Russian officials that Comey’s dismissal relieved the “great pressure” he faced in the sprawling federal Russia investigation.
Trump and his aides had previously said the President did not know Page, who is a bit player in this saga. A short-lived, low-level national security adviser on the campaign, he was forced out shortly after delivering a speech in Moscow about improving U.S.-Russia relations. Page has since addressed a steady stream of letters to the House Intelligence Committee, criticizing public testimony presented by former intelligence officials and denying any inappropriate contacts with Russia.
Committee spokespeople have not confirmed whether they are actually receiving these missives, some of which Page has made available to the press, or if they had ever set a firm date for him to testify.
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