Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) charged Friday that his colleague on the House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), canceled an open hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election in order to help the White House.
“I think this is a serious mistake,” Schiff said in a press briefing held one hour after Nunes gave his own briefing in which he announced the hearing was “postponed.”
“We don’t welcome cutting off public access to information,” he added, vocalizing an accusation he’d made earlier on Twitter:
BREAKING: Chairman just cancelled open Intelligence Committee hearing with Clapper, Brennan and Yates in attempt to choke off public info.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 24, 2017
Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan were scheduled to testify in an open hearing Tuesday.
Though Schiff said all three officials are still available and willing to appear, Nunes announced that the hearing would be postponed to allow FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers to speak to the committee in closed session.
Noting that Rogers and Comey testified in open hearing on Monday, Schiff called that move a “dodge.”
“I think that there must have been a very strong pushback from the White House about the nature of Monday’s hearing,” Schiff speculated, referring to Comey’s confirmation that the FBI was investigating whether there was any “cooperation” between Trump staffers and Russian officials.
“It’s hard for me to come to any other conclusion about why an agreed-upon hearing would be suddenly cancelled,” he said. “Clearly it had to do with the events of this week.”
Democrats, and even some GOP lawmakers, are deeply concerned about the credibility of the bipartisan commission’s investigation after Nunes on Wednesday told the White House that he’d viewed intelligence community reports showing that information about President Donald Trump and his staffers was “incidentally collected.”
Dumbfounded over Nunes’ decision to go to the press and Trump without consulting his own committee, Schiff accused his colleague of acting like a “surrogate of the White House.”