Castro says Dems will restart Russia probe if they win back the House

A member of the House Intelligence Committee says that Democrats plan to quickly reopen the panel’s Russia probe should the party take back control of the House in November.

“Probably the one that would get going right away is a thorough investigation into Russia and their interference,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) told Hill.TV co-host Krystal Ball on Tuesday when asked what Democrats would prioritize if they regain a majority in the House in the fall.

Republicans on the Intelligence Committee shut down the panel’s contentious Russia probe in March, releasing a report finding no collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

Democrats have long argued that the probe was ended prematurely, and have pushed for the panel to interview additional witnesses and review documents to verify witness testimonies.

They have also accused Republicans on the panel of seeking to protect Trump from scrutiny by shutting down Democratic calls to subpoena key members of his inner circle and administration.

“I know that the president thinks the entire investigation was a witch hunt, but we ought to have a fair process where we at least subpoena people and verify what was told to us,” Castro said Tuesday.

Despite the House panel ending its Russia probe, its Senate counterpart has continued probing ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which is also the subject of a federal probe being led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Castro said Tuesday he would also support a move by Trump to declassify underlying documents that authorities used to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page during the 2016 election.

“Unless there’s something that’s very sensitive to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] process for example, then I think as much of it should be transparent as possible,” Castro said. 

Trump is expected to declassify a series of documents related to both Page and Department of Justice (DOJ) official Bruce Ohr, according to an Axios report earlier this month.

House Republicans stepped up calls last week for the Trump administration to declassify sensitive files related to their scrutiny of a controversial dossier on Trump compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele in 2016.

— Tess Bonn

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