The Cable

House Intel Committee a House Divided on Trump Investigation

Is the House Intelligence Committee going to investigate allegations of a Russia connection, or leaks?

schiff

The House Intelligence Committee is looking into connections between President Donald Trump and Russia, but the top Republican and the top Democrat on the panel seem at loggerheads over what they’re investigating, or even whether they should.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R.-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, said calls for an investigation amount to a “witch hunt,” and that “at this point, there’s nothing there.” Nunes did want an investigation into something he considers serious, however: leaks of information from government officials to the press.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer also questioned the need for further investigations, arguing Monday that there is no need for a special prosecutor — as suggested by Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.) among others — because the allegations about Trump and Russia have yet to be confirmed.

Rep. Adam Schiff (R.-Calif.), the committee’s ranking member, said the House inquiry is in its “infancy” and that it is too early to come to any conclusions. He also said that he has not received assurances of full cooperation from the FBI in the investigation: “I don’t have the assurances I’d like to have,” Schiff told reporters Monday.

And while Schiff acknowledged that unauthorized leaks can be serious, he cautioned against losing sight of what he called the real issue: a battle between the United States and Russia for the future of the western liberal order. He noted that Russian hackers interfered in the election, as they are trying to do in France and Germany.  That makes a full investigation into the hack, the U.S. response, and any other possible connections between the Trump campaign and Moscow necessary, he said.

“If we are going to inoculate ourselves” against Russian threats, he said, “we need to know exactly what they’ve done.”

Asked why the panel can’t wait until the FBI’s own investigation is done, Schiff said: “We have our responsibility in Congress to do our investigation for the purposes of determining how to protect our democracy.”

Photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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