During a sometimes tense briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders on Thursday accused Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank and Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-California, of unduly influencing the ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The allegation came on the heels of Feinstein’s release of a transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s closed-door August interview with an official from the political opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The company commissioned a dossier that disclosed details of allegations about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel, released the transcript of Glenn Simpson’s interview over the objections of the committee’s Republican chairman, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.
- California is sitting on a surplus, but don’t expect a refund, taxpayers
- 6 candidates for governor to square off at USC forum
- Valley’s Tricia Robbins Kasson, a Blumenfield aide, runs for Dababneh’s Assembly seat
- How education could shape the governor’s race in California: funding, accountability, charter schools
- Special elections scheduled to replace Dababneh, Ridley-Thomas
“We certainly think it’s a gross overstep by Senator Feinstein to release that transcript,” Huckabee-Sanders said Thursday. “There’s been a lot of comments about obstruction of justice, and frankly the only people that we’ve seen trying to influence the investigation are former director (James) Comey and Democrats in Congress, and that would include Senator Feinstein and Representative Schiff, who have both selectively leaked to the media witness interviews.”
Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, fired back Thursday. “Being attacked by the President’s propagandist is a badge of honor that I’m proud to share with Senator Feinstein,” he said in a statement.
Schiff accused Republicans of blocking dozens of witnesses from being interviewed during the Russia probe, including some who were aware of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting during which Donald Trump Jr. was promised dirt on the Clinton campaign, according to reports. The meeting has captured the interest of congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller.
Schiff wants to broaden the list of witnesses, including the president’s daughter, Ivanka. He said Republicans have declined to invite many witnesses that would be valuable to the probe.
“There are witnesses who have knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting and what it was about prior to the meeting that have not been brought before our committee,” Schiff told reporters.
Schiff said the committee has interviewed a total of 56 witnesses, less than half of the number of people interviewed by the Senate intelligence committee. The House interviews are done by lawmakers, and often run for much of the day. The Senate panel’s interviews are performed by staff.
Schiff blamed House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif, who stepped aside from the probe for several months while the House Ethics Committee investigated whether Nunes had divulged classified information.
Republicans have in turn criticized Democrats for trying to draw out the probe and say there’s no clear evidence of ties between Russia and the president, who has repeatedly denied any such collusion.
“The Committee is working to develop well-supported findings that will help protect the 2018 elections against hacking and other potential disruptions by foreign powers,” said Jack Langer, a spokesman for Nunes. “The Democrats, by contrast, are insisting on a ridiculous, endless investigation for public relations purposes, in order to distract from their inability to provide evidence for the wild arguments they’ve been making to the media all year.”
The Associated Press and staff writers Kevin Modesti and Ryan Carter contributed to this report.