U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., vows that if Democrats regain control of the House and he becomes chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, investigating alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia in the 2016 election will be a top priority.
The congressman said a Democrat-led panel also would probe whether Russia has financial leverage over President Trump through his business interests, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The president has sought to keep that off limits, but if that’s the leverage Russians pose that’s a real threat to our country,” Schiff told the paper.
The Republican-led committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes of California, concluded earlier this year there was no evidence of conspiracy between the Trump camp and Russians.
Democrats contend the Republicans probe was superficial.
However, Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate alleged Russian meddling, also has presented no evidence of Trump campaign collusion.
The Republican report did find evidence of Clinton campaign “collusion” through an anti-Trump dossier of unsubstantiated political opposition research based on unnamed Russian sources that it funded along with the Democratic National Committee. The dossier, the House Republicans found, was submitted by the Obama FBI and DOJ as primary evidence to obtain warrants to spy on a Trump campaign volunteer.
Democrats have insisted the dossier was not the sole reason for launching the Russia probe, pointing to the allegation that Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos sought “dirt” on Clinton from a Russian source.
But Papadopoulos said in an interview after testifying to House investigators last month he believes he was framed by the Obama administration.
“I have absolutely no contacts whatsoever in Russia,” he said. “I’ve never been to Russia. I have no Russian friends.”
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., noted to reporters that Papadopoulos is “the person who supposedly was the whole reason we have this Russian collusion investigation going on.”
Meadows, one of three members who interviewed Papadopoulos, said the onetime Trump campaign volunteer was “very insistent that not only was there no collusion, but there was not even the opportunity for collusion, based on his contacts.”
“There is even a greater confirmation, in my mind, that there was inappropriate behavior on behalf of the FBI and DOJ,” the congressman said.
Evidence previously surfaced that another incident frequently presented as proof of Trump-Russia collusion – the Trump Tower meeting that included Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer – appears to have been set up by operatives supporting Hillary Clinton’s campaign.