Schumer: Senate probe intended to let Trump 'peek' at potential evidence

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMontana's environmental lobby teams with governor to kill 600 jobs Dems allow separation of parents, children to continue, just to score political points Democrats' education agenda would jeopardize state-level success MORE (D-N.Y.) blasted Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, saying their investigation into the 2016 election is a "whitewash" and comparing it to a controversial House probe. 

"To call the Senate Judiciary Committee's Trump Russia investigation halfhearted is too generous. It has been no different than the effort taken by Rep. Nunes," he said, referring to Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHouse GOP headed for showdown with DOJ over key documents Schiff: ‘Deeply disturbing’ that FBI gave Nunes confidential info on Clinton's emails Gowdy: House will use 'full arsenal' of constitutional weapons to get DOJ, FBI compliance on subpoenas MORE (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. 

Schumer said the Senate panel's investigation was "designed to let the president and his lawyers interfere with the [special counsel Robert] Mueller probe and get a peek at any potential evidence." 

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His comments came a few hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee released the transcripts from a slate of interviews with participants in a controversial Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix Dem group plays audio of children crying at detention facilities outside Trump hotel Trump Jr. cancels fundraiser after Jeb Bush criticism on immigration MORE took that meeting with a Russian lawyer after being promised dirt on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance Melania Trump puzzles with 'I really don't care' jacket Grassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report MORE.

Schumer called the decision to release transcripts of interviews with Trump Jr. and others at the meeting a "perfunctory move, apparently intended to signal the end of the committee's on-again, off-again halting investigation." He said that Senate Republicans have "barely scratched the surface." 

Schumer didn't say why he believed Republicans were moving to wrap up their probe. But a Senate Democratic aide told The Hill that Republicans on the Judiciary Committee "have indicated" to Democrats "that was part of the intent of the release."

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report Senate Dems call for Judiciary hearing on Trump's 'zero tolerance' Republicans agree — it’s only a matter of time for Scott Pruitt MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the committee, said he was releasing the transcripts "to allow the public to know what we know."

Spokesmen for Grassley didn't respond to a request for comment about the future of the probe.

The Senate Judiciary Committee for months has been conducting a sprawling investigation into the 2016 election. 

But, while Republicans on the panel have wanted to double back to Obama-era scandals, including the FBI's handling of the Clinton email investigation, Democrats argue the focus should have been more on Trump and potential collusion with Moscow. 

Democrats on the panel — including Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGrassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report Senate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration Live coverage: High drama as hardline immigration bill fails, compromise vote delayed MORE (Calif.), the committee's ranking member — released a nine-page list of pending requests for the investigation, including a public interview with Donald Trump Jr., former campaign manager Stephen Bannon and Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen.

"The investigation has yet to be completed and dozens of witnesses’ testimony as well as critical documents have yet to be obtained. In addition, without the cooperation of Republicans and the ability to subpoena witnesses, much of the truth remains hidden," the Democrats said in a joint statement. 

--This report was updated at 2:35 p.m.