by WorldTribune Staff, June 21, 2017
In a move Washington observers see as an attempt to ensure the Trump-Russia investigation, which has yet to produce any evidence, drags on for many months, if not years, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said Democrats need more time to prepare their case.
“We are far closer to the beginning of the investigation than we are to the end,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who previously had pushed for the investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign by saying the evidence was “more than circumstantial.”
Democrats have blocked several witnesses who were slated to testify before the panel, including Carter Page, an informal adviser to the Trump campaign.
“He’s the guy that many Democrats have been pointing to as the supposed mastermind and you would think they were interested in hearing his story,” said one Capitol Hill official.
Pressed during a June 18 appearance on ABC News to explain evidence of collusion, Schiff said: “Well, I think there is evidence. I can’t go into the particulars of our closed investigation. But I also think there is also evidence of obstruction. But in both cases, I would say, whether there is some evidence doesn’t mean there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“The same people that say that there’s no evidence of collusion say there’s no evidence of obstruction,” Schiff said. “I don’t buy that.”
Schiff told ABC that the allegations of collusion are focused on Russian hacking of private emails and making them public, and that Russians were working with Trump campaign staff and coordinated the influence operation. “But I’m not prepared to say that there’s proof you could take to a jury,” he said. “But I can say that there is enough that we ought to be investigating.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, criticized Democrats for making what he called “reckless, baseless allegations” about Trump’s alleged involvement in Russian activities during the 2016 campaign.
“There are members of both the House and the Senate who [say] ‘I’ve seen evidence that is more than circumstantial, but not direct,'” Gowdy told Fox News. “There is no way it can be more than circumstantial but not direct.”
Gowdy, who serves on the House intelligence committee, said a member of the panel (likely referring to Schiff) “said this week that he has seen evidence [but] he can’t tell us what it is [and] it’s not beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“There’s no way to defend yourself against those kinds of baseless, reckless accusations,” Gowdy said.
The FBI has been investigating allegations of Russia-Trump campaign collusion since July based in part on the debunked dossier produced by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.