The top lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee have set the parameters for their investigation into Russia's interference in the U.S. election, which will include potential contacts between President Trump's campaign and Moscow, as well as U.S. intelligence leaks.
Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party Bannon eyed as key link between White House, Jan. 6 riot MORE (D-Calif.) released a summary of the investigation's goals Wednesday evening.
The main questions they'll focus on are:
"What Russian cyber activity and other active measures were directed against the United States and its allies?
"Did the Russian active measures include links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns or any other U.S. Persons?
"What was the U.S. Government’s response to these Russian active measures and what do we need to do to protect ourselves and our allies in the future?
"What possible leaks of classified information took place related to the Intelligence Community Assessment of these matters?"
The intelligence community agrees that Russia was behind a hacking effort that hit the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMeghan McCain: 'SNL' parodies made me feel like 'laughing stock of the country' Hill: Trump reelection would spur 'one constitutional crisis after another' Trump defends indicted GOP congressman MORE's campaign chairman.
A report from the director of national intelligence found that Russian President Vladimir Putin developed a clear preference for Trump over Clinton, and the Kremlin aimed to undermine U.S. democracy and Clinton's candidacy.
Both the House and Senate Intelligence committees are investigating the issues surrounding Russia's meddling.
"This investigation is a national security necessity and anything less than a full accounting of all the facts will be insufficient to protect the country and meet the expectations of the American people,” Schiff said in a joint press release with Nunes announcing the goals of the investigation.
"On a bipartisan basis, we will fully investigate all the evidence we collect and follow that evidence wherever it leads,” Nunes said in the same release.
On Monday, Nunes made clear that the investigation would probe leaks from the intelligence community that led to former national security adviser Michael Flynn's resignation. Anonymous officials told news outlets that he had addressed the issue of sanctions with the Russian ambassador on a call in December and had misled top White House officials, including Vice President Pence, about the conversation.
But Trump and Nunes have both said that the threat of leaks is a bigger risk than Flynn's alleged overreach.
"We can't run a government like this,” Nunes said.
Nunes went on to say he had seen no evidence validating allegations that the Trump campaign had regular contact with Russian officials, a claim Schiff called "premature" later that day.
"We haven't obtained any of the evidence yet, so it's premature for us to be saying we've reached any conclusion about the issue of collusion," he said, noting that the investigation had neither gathered evidence nor formally called witnesses.
"The most that we've had are private conversations, the chair and I, with intelligence officials. That's not a substitute for an investigation."