House Intel Republicans appear close to ending Russia probe

House Intel Republicans appear close to ending Russia probe
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Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee appear close to closing the committee's yearlong investigation into Russian interference.

Republicans say the panel has thoroughly examined Moscow’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election and they are ready to conclude the probe. But alarmed Democratic colleagues say ending the investigation anytime soon would be premature.

“I think we are pretty much near the end of it,” Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingGOP congressman: Trump should have been 'above' attacking Pelosi at Normandy Democratic lawmaker: Trump shouldn't be allowed to attend D-Day ceremony GOP lawmakers say Trump wrong to criticize Biden in Japan MORE (R-N.Y.) told The Hill on Monday.

“I don’t know exactly when it is going to end, but we’ve definitely interviewed just about every possible witness, every plausible witness,” he added.

Democrats, on the other hand, are renewing their warning calls about a concerted effort by the GOP to cut the investigation's lifespan short in an effort to shield President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants MORE from the congressional probes, which are separate from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE's investigation. 

“We're being shut off,” Rep. Mike QuigleyMichael (Mike) Bruce QuigleyDems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments Democrats lash out at Trump's bombshell remarks MORE (D-Ill.) said during a Monday appearance on “CNN Newsroom.” 

“If I had to predict, in the next month they will shut down the House and Senate investigations and I would imagine they would cheer on the White House attempt to shut down Mueller,” he added.

Quigley also accused the Republican majority on the committee of being complicit in following the marching orders of the Trump administration by failing to compel witnesses to answer questions in the face of a “gag order" from the White House.

Democrats loudly protested last week that Republicans are failing to follow up on threats to hold former White House strategist Stephen Bannon in contempt of Congress. Republicans on the committee appeared relatively quiet on the matter, a contrast to their initial fury at Bannon, who refused to answer some committee questions while under subpoena during an interview in February.

The clashing viewpoints on the probe are the latest sign of deteriorating bipartisan relations between the committee’s Democrats and Republicans, who have engaged in a bruising battle over the direction of the investigation. 

Tensions reached a boiling point last month when Democrats called on House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIndiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Inside Biden's preparations for first debate MORE (R-Wis.) to remove Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing MORE (R-Calif.) over his controversial decision to release a classified memo authored by his staff that outlined allegations of surveillance abuse.  

While they eventually released their own point-by-point rebuttal last week, after Republicans initially voted to not release the Democratic memo, Democrats accused Nunes of using his memo to undermine Mueller by suggesting that federal probe was tainted from the start as it was based off information that was funded by Trump’s opponents.

Republicans have also been accused of leaking to the press.

The New York Times reported last week that the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee suspect Nunes is behind the leaked text messages to Fox News that aimed to discredit the top Democrat on the panel, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocratic senator accuses White House of blocking election security legislation Democratic senator accuses White House of blocking election security legislation Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw MORE (D-Va.). Warner communicated with lobbyist Adam Waldman, whose firm has reported ties to a Russian oligarch, in an attempt to make contact with Christopher Steele, the author of the controversial Trump dossier.

The leaders of the Senate committee, which has led is own independent investigation into Russian interference, are largely seen as the perfect opposite of the House panel: well-functioning, tight-lipped and bipartisan.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrEx-state senator in North Carolina enters race against Tillis The Hill's Morning Report - Is US weighing military action against Iran? The Hill's Morning Report - Is US weighing military action against Iran? MORE (R-N.C.) and other Republicans came to the defense of Warner at the time, who said he had informed them of the text messages. But Burr disputed the idea that he complained to Ryan that Nunes was behind the leak. 

Partisan infighting has splintered committee relations to such a degree that the purpose of the Russia investigation is being undermined, a senior Republican leading the Russia probe said Friday.

“I went on television and called for an end to House Russia investigation, not because I don’t think that there is still more information that we can gather from witnesses, but because the investigation has just completely gone off the rails politically,” Rep. Tom RooneyThomas (Tom) Joseph RooneyHouse Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Hill-HarrisX poll: 76 percent oppose Trump pardoning former campaign aides Dems fear Trump is looking at presidential pardons MORE (R-Fla.) said during an interview with The New York Times’s “The Daily” podcast.

Rooney, who announced he will not seek reelection last month, has repeatedly described the partisan atmosphere as toxic.

“The well has been poisoned so bad down there that it will be very, very difficult to get out of that,” he said in the interview.

The Florida lawmaker made the case that it is pointless to continue the probe if the committee cannot put aside their differences and write a bipartisan report detailing their investigation’s findings on Moscow’s meddling, but he said it has already become clear that is not going to happen. 

“We’ve already been told there’s not going to be a bipartisan report — there’s going to be a majority report and a minority report. But it is not going to be bipartisan. And if it is not going to be bipartisan, it might as well just end,” Rooney said in the podcast interview.

Republicans are still fuming over what they viewed as Democrats’ unfair treatment of White House communications director Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle The Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle Hope Hicks agrees to testify before House panel MORE during her appearance before the committee last week, which they point to as an example of how partisanship has impeded their investigative efforts.

Democrats, King said, asked a “cheap question” about whether the White House communications director had ever lied for her boss. King alleged that Democrats then quickly turned around and leaked to the press Hicks's admission that she had told "white lies" on Trump's behalf.

“To me that is sort of what we are up against,” King said. 

Despite the talk of ending the probe, the committee could continue to interview other witnesses. 

Former Trump campaign manager Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiMichael Caputo eyes congressional bid Clinton lawyer: Mueller's failure to draw conclusion on obstruction a 'massive dereliction' of duty Mueller's facts vs Trump's spin MORE is expected to appear before the committee for a second interview on Thursday, a committee source familiar with the matter confirmed.

Bloomberg News first reported his expected appearance.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report - Is US weighing military action against Iran? The Hill's Morning Report - Is US weighing military action against Iran? Schiff: Intelligence agencies focused on Russian interference 'even if the president isn't' MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the committee, publicly sounded the alarm in December that Republicans planned to wrap up the high-profile probe before the start of the new year. The committee, however, continued to interview witnesses months after Schiff made such claims. 

When the investigation does ultimately wrap up, it will likely end with pointed fingers.

A spokesperson for Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayOn The Money: House chairman issues subpoenas for Trump's tax returns | Trump touts trade talks as China, US fail to reach deal | Five things to know about Trump's trade war with China | GOP offers support for Trump on tariffs GOP offers support for Trump on China tariffs On The Money: New tariffs on China pose major risk for Trump | Senators sound alarm over looming budget battles | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders team up against payday lenders MORE (R-Texas), the top Republican leading the investigation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the timeline.