Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee may be looking to prematurely shutter the committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, a ranking Democrat warned Friday.
In a series of tweets, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) explained why he was becoming “increasingly worried” that the probe may be nearing a conclusion as soon as the end of December.
Schiff, who is working on the probe, said that Republicans on the committee have not issued any subpoenas or scheduled any further witness interviews past next Friday. The inaction, he added, comes at a time when the panel has made “important progress” in the nine months of the investigation, which has involved interviewing key witnesses and uncovering new leads.
“We have dozens of outstanding witnesses on key aspects of our investigation that they refuse to contact and many document requests they continue to sit on,” Schiff wrote.
“It appears Republicans want to conduct just enough interviews to give the impression of a serious investigation,” he added.
Schiff’s warning mirrors a report from The New York Times published Friday suggesting that the House Intelligence Committee is rushing to finish the investigation before Congress breaks for the holidays.
According to the Times report, some of the panel’s most important witnesses will be interviewed in New York next week, potentially forcing some House Democrats to choose between voting on the GOP’s controversial tax bill and attending depositions for the Russian investigation. Schiff said the witnesses were willing to travel to the capital.
In his tweets, Schiff added that the House will also have to vote on “vital government funding bills” as well. The time crunch could mean that “no Members will be able to ask questions,” he wrote.
All this, Schiff said, would be “in an effort to squeeze them in before end of year.”
Asked about the push to end the investigation, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who is leading the House probe on Russia, told The New York Times, “I feel no need to apologize for concluding an investigation.”
Schiff also pointed to recent “attacks” by Republicans on special counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI as evidence that the GOP politicians were working to end the Russia investigation “aggressively and soon.”
Republicans have taken aim at Mueller’s investigation into Russia this week after reports revealed that the FBI removed Peter Strzok, a top agent, from the probe. Strzok was found sending text messages that could be seen as critical of President Donald Trump.
During an oversight hearing of the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week, Republicans suggested that the public could no longer trust Mueller and the Justice Department to conduct an unbiased investigation, according to NBC News.
“I think the public trust in this whole thing is gone,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Wednesday.
Similarly, Trump cast doubt on the FBI’s efficacy earlier this month when he tweeted that the bureau’s reputation was “in tatters” and “the worst in history” under former director James Comey.
On Friday, the president told reporters that “people are very, very angry” with the FBI and the Justice Department ahead of his trip to the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
In his tweets, Schiff warned the public that attacks on the Justice Department by Republicans and the White House are simply attempts to derail the Russia probe.
“We cannot let that happen,” the Democrat said.