As far as the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee is concerned, their investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election is complete.
Not so for their Democratic colleagues, who on Tuesday released an exhaustive list of investigative leads and witnesses that the majority didn’t pursue before shuttering its probe.
The list represents a forceful condemnation of the Republicans’ investigation, which Democrats have long seen as a half-hearted effort aimed at exonerating the administration.
“The HPSCI Democrats remain fully committed to conducting this investigation as originally envisioned, leaving no stone unturned in determining the facts of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and the steps we need to take to ensure the future integrity of our democratic process,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the committee’s ranking Democrat, wrote in the status update.
Those stones include interviews with “more than 30 key witnesses” who either have yet to respond to requests for testimony or weren’t identified as pertinent until late in the months-long probe. Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller, and former deputy national security adviser KT McFarland are among those listed.
The House Democrats also say a “legitimate investigation” would require interviews with certain people caught up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Schiff says the committee deferred talking to people like ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos out of respect for the federal inquiry, but that doing so was essential to gaining a “complete understanding” of Russia-Trump connections. Both Flynn and Papadopoulos are currently cooperating witnesses in Mueller’s probe.
Unlike the now-closed official committee investigation, any ongoing probe by Democrats, of course, would lack subpoena power to enforce its demands.
Unanswered lines of inquiry identified by the minority include detailing the hacking and dissemination of Democratic operatives’ emails; determining the financial leverage Russia may have had over Trump and other members of his campaign; and concluding whether the President obstructed justice by asking former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, among other moves.
Democrats on the panel are also interested in obtaining documents from entities including Deutsche Bank and the social media giants that Russia used to disseminate false information.
They will likely be alone in these pursuits. The panel’s GOP majority announced Monday that the investigative phase of their work was over, and they were moving on to producing a report on their conclusions. The Republican summary of their draft report said that there was “no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”
It also made clear that Republicans were focused on starkly different lines of inquiry, including alleged anti-Trump bias at the Justice Department and FBI and intelligence community leaks to the media.
Democrats insisted they’ll continue on with their more comprehensive inquiry “to the best of our ability,” per Schiff’s status report.