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

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' 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 NunesJuan Williams: Trump, the Great Destroyer The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Citi — Latest on Hurricane Michael | Trump, Kanye West to have lunch at White House | GOP divided over potential 2020 high court vacancy Senate Dem: Trump's 'fake, hyperbolic rantings' an insult to real Medal of Honor recipients 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 TrumpO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Election Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B MORE took that meeting with a Russian lawyer after being promised dirt on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders thanks Iowa voters for giving momentum to progressive agenda Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Arizona newspaper backs Democrat in dead heat Senate race 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 GrassleyGOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks Trump officials ratchet up drug pricing fight Dems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October 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 FeinsteinDurbin to Trump: ‘We’re the mob? Give me a break’ Sen. Walter Huddleston was a reminder that immigration used to be a bipartisan issue GOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks 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.