The expectations of a rush of immediate investigations into the Trump administration once the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives are being undermined by the stalling tactics of Republicans, according to a new report in The Daily Beast today.
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The House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep.Adam Schiff (D-CA) is ready to reopen the panel’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and to reexamine the veracity of the testimony proffered to the committee by various administration luminaries while it was under the control of GOP members more interested in protecting President Trump than getting to the truth of what happened in the runup to the election and during its aftermath.
However, in a move inexplicable except as a deliberate move to delay the Democrats’ ability to restart the probe, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has yet to fill any of the Republican seats on the committee except one: the former chairman of the committee in the previous GOP majority congress, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
Congressman Nunes was instrumental in ensuring that the president was protected from any meaningful investigation by the committee that could harm his administration in any way, going above and beyond his self-appointed role as Trump’s protector to use his chairmanship of the intelligence panel to attack the Special Counsel’s office, the FBI and other formerly beyond reproach intelligence agencies who were finding evidence of malfeasance by the Trump campaign and to try to undermine their credibility.
While until yesterday Congress had already been hampered by Trump’s manufactured crisis of the government shutdown for its first three weeks of the new session, Democrats managed to have all their committee assignments completed by January 16th. Republicans, on the other hand, haven’t done a thing to move the process forward.
A spokesperson for Minority Leader McCarthy, Matt Sparks, could only offer a vague non-answer when responding to inquiries as to when the GOP will have their act together enough to assign representatives to the Republican seats on the committee.
“That will be announced when it is ready,” he said without addressing the reason behind the delay.
Meanwhile, the business of the committee is on hold, with no meetings or hearings scheduled. And, while the Democrats have yet to accuse their GOP colleagues of deliberately slowing things down, one committee aide complained that:
“There is an urgency in getting all of our transcripts to Mueller that we cannot ignore.”
The committee can’t provide Mueller with those transcripts, withheld by the GOP when they were in control until it convenes and votes on it — an impossibility without a completed roster of members.
With yesterday’s indictment of Trump advisor Roger Stone for providing felonious false testimony in his appearance before the committee, the Democrats are anxious to discover who else may have misled them when the witnesses were being coddled by the then-Republican majority on the panel, besides the already indicted former Trump attorney Michael Cohen who has admitted to his misstatements after he was confronted with the hard physical evidence seized by the FBI in raids on his home and offices.
The Daily Beast cites committee member Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) as being particularly interested in reviewing the prior testimony of Eric Prince — the wealthy brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the founder of the private military firm Blackwater — who was involved in a secret meeting in Seychelles in January 2017 with a Russian official close to Putin to allegedly set up a back channel for communication with Russia.
Also expected to be recalled to provide new testimony is Donald Trump Jr., thought to be at risk of a perjury charge due to his prior statements to the committee.
Now that Democrats are in control and have subpoena power, the House Intelligence committee is also expected to probe accusations of Trump’s money laundering and his relationship with Deutsche Bank which was the only bank willing to lend the Trump Organization money after a history of bankruptcies and has a history of cleansing currency illicitly for Russian oligarchs
If the GOP finally names its committee members in the next week as some Democrats expect, Chairman Schiff can start what is the long and difficult task of reasserting congressional oversight of the Trump’s administration’s shady dealings as they relate to intelligence matters. Any longer delay will surely mean that the Republican failure to name congresspeople to the committee is a deliberate attempt at stalling the inevitable exposure of facts it wants to keep the public from seeing — facts that are not positive for either President Trump or the Republican party.
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Original reporting by Spencer Ackerman at The Daily Beast.