Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report

Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report
© Greg Nash

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Democrats' impeachment case lands with a thud with GOP — but real audience is voters MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday said his panel is planning to hold a “series of hearings” on the first volume of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE’s report examining Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.

Schiff said the first hearing will focus on the original counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling, saying his panel has been unable to get an answer from the FBI or the intelligence community on what became of the original probe.

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“We have not been able to get a clear answer yet from the intelligence community or the FBI as to whether that investigation is still open, whether that investigation mushroomed into a set of other counterintelligence investigations, whether it was closed at some time,” Schiff said while speaking at a Council on Foreign Relations event in Washington, D.C.

“It is troubling that we have not been able to get an answer to that question.”

Schiff’s remarks come as congressional lawmakers are pressing for Mueller’s own testimony on Capitol Hill after the special counsel delivered his first public remarks on the investigation last week. Mueller has signaled that he does not want to deliver public testimony before Congress. 

Schiff has for weeks raised questions about the fate of a counterintelligence probe that preceded Mueller’s investigation, which is only briefly mentioned in the special counsel’s 448-page report on Russian interference.

Schiff said Tuesday that “a great deal” more could be learned from the counterintelligence investigation than from Mueller’s report, including details on activity that the special counsel did not thoroughly examine as potentially criminal.

“Ultimately Bob Mueller interpreted his charter in a very narrowed way,” Schiff said. 

Schiff’s panel has launched its own investigation into President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE’s finances and the possibility he or members of his inner circle may be subject to foreign compromise.

Schiff has subpoenaed the Justice Department to turn over foreign intelligence and counterintelligence materials generated in the course of Mueller’s investigation as well as the special counsel’s unredacted report and underlying evidence. 

The Justice Department agreed to turn over some of the counterintelligence materials last month after Schiff dropped a threat to vote on taking action to enforce a subpoena against Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrLawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Barr wrote 2018 memo contradicting Trump's claim that abuse of power is not impeachable MORE

“The Justice Department has started to provide some of the materials that we have asked for on a rolling basis,” Schiff said Tuesday. “We hope that will continue.”

Schiff’s public remarks came roughly a week after Mueller spoke for the first time on the conclusions of his investigation, reiterating that the report found insufficient evidence to charge members or associates of the Trump campaign in a broader conspiracy with Russia to interfere in the election. Mueller also did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed the investigation.

Schiff has reiterated the need for Mueller to testify before Congress; House lawmakers could ultimately subpoena him if he does not agree to testify. On Tuesday, Schiff said he has questions for the now ex-special counsel on why he did not apparently dig into Trump’s finances in the course of his investigation.

“It certainly appeared to me over the last few years that Mueller did not follow the money,” Schiff said. “That’s one of the questions I would like to ask him, but there are no indications in the report that that’s something Mueller looked at." 

Schiff’s panel is examining discussions within the Trump Organization during the 2016 campaign on building a Trump property in Moscow as part of its sweeping investigation. The real estate deal never came to fruition but attracted scrutiny from congressional investigators and Mueller; former Trump attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenJuan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Treasury adviser pleads guilty to making unauthorized disclosures in case involving Manafort Michael Cohen calls for early release from prison MORE pleaded guilty last November to lying about the duration of the talks in a deal to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation.  

Schiff’s panel, along with the House Financial Services Committee, has subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Capital One for financial records related to Trump, but the president is fighting the subpoena in court.