Schumer warns of possible cover-up by Trump administration

Following an emergency Democratic caucus meeting Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSchumer: Dems didn't 'tell people what we stood for' in 2016 Schumer: Dems, not Russia, are to blame for loss to Trump Repair is the only “R” word that can solve our healthcare woes MORE (N.Y.) warned that Trump officials might try to cover up improper contacts with Russian intelligence.

Schumer said there is legitimate concern that President Trump’s circle of advisers may try to destroy evidence that could shed light on the substance of reported conversations with Russian agents.

“There is real concern that administration, transition and campaign officials may try to cover up ties to Russia by deleting emails, texts and other records that could shine a light on those connections,” Schumer said at a press conference outside the Senate chamber following the meeting. 

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He said such electronic records are “likely to be the subject” of congressional investigations and “must be preserved.”

Schumer, flanked by Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinFranken: Trump Jr., Manafort need to testify under oath Trump Jr., Manafort reach deal to avoid public hearing next week Senate panel subpoenas co-founder of firm tied to controversial Trump dossier MORE (Calif.) and Mark WarnerMark WarnerTrump: Everyone agrees the president has 'complete power to pardon' Susan Rice met with Senate Intelligence Committee as part of Russia probe Dem senator: Pardoning targets of Russia probe would be 'crossing a fundamental line' MORE (Va.), the ranking Democrats on the Judiciary and Intelligence committees respectively, demanded that all records of contact between Trump's campaign, transition and administration officials be preserved.

The New York Times reported late Tuesday that phone records and intercepted calls show members of Trump’s presidential campaign had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence officials in the months before Election Day.

This has raised suspicion among Democrats in Congress that former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who served as a senior adviser to the campaign, may have promised sanctions relief to Russian officials, knowing that Russian intelligence would help Trump win the presidential election by leaking damaging information about Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump backers eye GOP primary challenges for Flake, Heller Franken: Trump Jr., Manafort need to testify under oath Special counsel investigators pushing Manafort for cooperation: report MORE.

“I’ve been in Congress for a long time, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Schumer told reporters. He reiterated his demand that Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump's DOJ gears up for crackdown on marijuana Kislyak going back to Russia, embassy says Grassley calls on 'leaker' to release Sessions-Russia conversation MORE, a stalwart Trump supporter during the presidential campaign, recuse himself from the Department of Justice’s probe of the campaign’s ties to Russia.

If Sessions does not, Schumer warned, the “investigation will remain jaundiced and the American people will doubt the credibility of its findings,” citing Sesssions’s early endorsement of Trump, his work on his presidential campaign and his association with Flynn during that time.

Schumer said Trump officials should be required to testify before Congress in public session and under oath, and that all findings of the investigation should be made public.

The Democratic Caucus is unified behind the demands, Schumer added.

“During our caucus meeting we discussed the two tracks on which we must seek the truth,” he said, citing the need for investigations by Congress and outside law enforcement led by the FBI.

He said the Senate Intelligence Committee will take the lead on Capitol Hill, but emphasized that it’s equally important that “law enforcement get to the bottom of everything that may have transpired here.”

Republicans this week said the Senate Intelligence Committee would lead the investigation into new revelations that Flynn made improper backchannel contact with the Russian ambassador as part of a broader look at Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.