The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee revealed on Thursday that the FBI possesses crucial information about president Donald’s Trump role in the Russian cyber attack that tilted the 2016 presidential election in his favor and raised the prospect of subpoenaing the agency.
The Democratic lawmaker directly accused FBI James Comey of withholding evidence in connection with the investigation into the Russian interference in the election.
“I would say at this point we know less than a fraction of what the FBI knows,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters after a briefing with Comey.
“I appreciate we had a long briefing and testimony from the director today, but in order for us to do our investigation in a thorough and credible way, we’re gonna need the FBI to fully cooperate, to be willing to tell us the length and breadth of any counterintelligence investigations they are conducting,” Schiff said. “At this point, the director was not willing to do that.”
The briefing came as Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing calls to recuse himself from an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia after The Washington Post reported that Sessions met twice with the Russian ambassador last year and didn’t tell senators about it during his confirmation hearing.
Schiff described the House panel’s investigation as “among the most serious that we’ve ever done” but argued that the committee can’t thoroughly do its job if the Justice Department or FBI “is unwilling to tell us what indeed they looked at, what leads they have followed, where they have found substance and where they have not.”
“I’m disappointed we didn’t have that briefing today,” he said.
During the briefing, Schiff said, Comey faced “repeated questions about the scope of any investigation they were doing” and “individuals that may be the subject of any counterterrorism investigation.”
“The director declined to answer those questions,” Schiff said.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who chairs the committee, maintained that there is no evidence of contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials.
However, more and more evidence is being leaked that proves otherwise. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s call to the Russian ambassador before Trump was sworn in cost him his job, and is still under investigation.
And just this week, Political Dig reported that Attorney General and then trump campaign surrogate Jeff Sessions met with Russian officials at least twice at the hight of the presidential elections.
Schiff raised the prospect that it could have been Sessions’ Justice Department that advised Comey to be less than forthcoming. “It was unclear whether that decision was a decision he was making on his own or a decision that he is making in consultation with the Department of Justice,” he said.
He added: “Certainly, the attorney general is in no position to oversee any investigation or prosecution involving any of the counterintelligence issues concerning Russia. So I am now convinced that an independent prosecutor is necessary.”
As for Nunes, he said, “I have no idea” if Sessions should recuse himself “because we have no idea what he did or didn’t do.”
Schiff, however, called on Sessions to resign.
The FBI declined to comment on Schiff’s allegations.