Trump, businesses sue Oversight chairman to block subpoena for financial records
Schiff says Dems to charge ahead with Trump investigations
The head of the House Intelligence Committee said Monday that Democrats have every intention of charging ahead with their investigations into the Trump administration following special counsel Robert Mueller's conclusion that Trump's team did not conspire with Moscow to sway the 2016 election.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Democrats are especially keen to answer lingering questions about Trump's financial dealings, including those with Russian figures.
"Even if they didn't rise to the issue of a crime, it nonetheless could pose a great compromise of our national security," Schiff told a small group of reporters in the Capitol.
The remarks came a day after Attorney General William Barr released a brief summary of the "principal conclusions" reached by Mueller following his 22-month investigation into Russian election interference and whether the Trump team was a party to it.
Barr's summary, four pages long, asserted that Mueller found no evidence of criminal conspiracy committed by Trump or any member of his team "despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign."
Mueller, according to Barr, declined to make a judgment surrounding allegations that Trump had obstructed the probe, particularly in his firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Barr said Mueller's report specified that while the investigators are not recommending obstruction charges against the president, their report "also does not exonerate him."
Schiff, before the Barr summary emerged, had asserted publicly that Trump almost certainly "colluded" with Moscow to influence the election. Following the release of Barr's letter, Republicans were quick to go on the attack, with some of them, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), calling for Schiff to be removed from atop the Intelligence Committee.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has dismissed those calls for removal, with a spokesperson on Monday calling them "ridiculous attacks." Schiff echoed that message later in the day.
"I'm more than used to attacks by my GOP colleagues," he said. "And I would expect nothing less."
Schiff said he accepts the conclusions of the Mueller probe - from a purely legal perspective.
He noted there's a higher bar for what behavior constitutes an indictable offense versus what is merely unscrupulous. But in both cases, he argued, the public has the right to know what the president is up to.
"I certainly accept the finding that he could not establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a criminal conspiracy," Schiff said.
"But if there are interactions between the president, his family, his campaign people and the Russians that are compromising, we are going to look to the Mueller report to find out what he established," he continued.
"There are a lot of open questions," he added.
Schiff is hardly alone in his push to continue Congress's investigations into Trump. Aside from his Intelligence panel, the Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, and Ways and Means committees are also eyeing - or have already launched - probes into Trump's actions related to Russia.
Among the issues at the top of their interest list are allegations that Trump sought to expand his business empire in Russia throughout the 2016 campaign; that he violated campaign finance laws by securing hush payments to a pornographic actress during the campaign; and that his son, Donald Trump Jr., was open to offers from Russian figures for "dirt" on Trump's opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Schiff, who has been on the front lines of the Trump investigation for more than two years, rattled off a list of questions that remain unanswered by Barr's short summary of the Mueller findings:
"Why did the Russians offer 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton?"
"Why did the president's son say that he would love to have that help?"
"Why did they set up a meeting at Trump Tower?"
"Why did they keep it secret?"
"Why did they lie about it?"
"Why did the campaign chairman provide polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence?"
"Why did Roger Stone reach out to the GRU through Guccifer 2.0?"
"These questions have not been answered by the summary that we got from Bill Barr," Schiff went on. "I would hope that there are answers in the Mueller report. Now those answers, I would imagine, don't amount to proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a crime. But they are concerning nonetheless, particularly as they shed light on whether there is any form of compromise of these individuals."
"So we're going to try to find out the answers," he added.