By LISA MASCARO, LAURIE KELLMAN and MARY CLARE JALONICK
WASHINGTON — House Democrats barreled ahead with their oversight of the Trump administration on Thursday at a fiery Intelligence Committee hearing where Republicans formalized their demand that Chairman Adam Schiff resign his post over his comments that there was significant evidence the president and his associates conspired with Russia.
Republicans pointed to the four-page synopsis of special counsel Robert Muellers investigation, written and released Sunday by Attorney General William Barr, that said the probe found no evidence Donald Trumps campaign “conspired or coordinated” with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“We have no faith in your ability to discharge your responsibilities” in line with the Constitution, the Republicans wrote to Schiff in a missive they read aloud at the hearing.
At times in his interviews about the Mueller investigation, Schiff came close to sounding like he believed Trump had broken the law, Republicans said.
Convening the session, Schiff angrily listed meetings among those in Trumps circle with Russians and his apparent pursuit of a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
“There is a different word for that than collusion and its called compromise,” Schiff said, gaveling open proceedings on how Russia has in the past blackmailed Americans.
Schiff this week has repeated his assertion that evidence of collusion is in “plain sight,” saying that Muellers failure to find a criminal conspiracy with Russia does not absolve the Trump campaign of its actions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rebuffed the calls for his resignation as “ridiculous.”
Outside the hearing room, the main battle continued over if and when Barr would release Muellers still-secret report and its underlying evidence amid Democratic concerns that what has been made public so far was tilted in Trumps favor. Barr has said hell release at least a partial version in April.
Democrats warn that the longer it takes to release Muellers full findings, the more they will question the legitimacy of Barrs actions.
“I would hope the attorney general would not be acting as a political operative for the president,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a member of the Judiciary Committee. “The Department of Justice should not be involved in a cover-up of whats actually in the report.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Wednesday he was “disappointed” Barr would take weeks, not days, to release the report.
“The president has now an opportunity for weeks, it sounds like, to do these victory laps,” said Cummings, noting that Trumps lawyer, Michael Cohen, is among those headed to jail as a result of the probe. “Cohen goes to jail, the president runs a victory lap.”
Barr told the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that hes combing through Muellers report and removing classified, grand jury and other information in hopes of releasing it to Congress.
Graham told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he had dinner the previous evening with Barr, who said he is willing to testify before the committee after he sends Congress the report.
Trump also has said hes fine with releasing the findings. “The president said, Just let it go, and thats whats going to happen,” Graham said.
Whats clear, though, is that Barr will miss the Tuesday deadline set by six House committee chairmen to see the full confidential report and its underlying documents. They have suggested they may eventually need to subpoena it.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said he was “very concerned” Barr would not provide the material by the time set.
Nadler upped the oversight Wednesday by placing a call to Barr. Over 10 minutes, the chairman asked whether Barr would accede to Congress demand for the full report by Tuesday. Barr said no, according to Nadler.
Nadler asked if Barr would release a report to Congress without redactions. “He wouldnt commit to that,” the congressman said. He also told reporters that Muellers report was “very substantial” and fewer than 1,000 pages.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wRead More – Source