Democrats question GOP commitment to Senate's Russia inquiry
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are raising fresh concerns about the GOP-led panel’s appetite for digging into the Russian ties forged by multiple advisers to President Donald Trump.
Friction on the committee last spiked in October, when the chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), sent a slew of letters to key figures in the Russia investigation without the signature of Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the panel’s top Democrat. Feinstein has followed by sending four rounds of letters without Grassley’s signature that seek material from other players in the Trump campaign’s communications with Russian officials — the most recent series of letters coming on Monday.
Asked about Grassley’s decision to not sign on, Feinstein told reporters late Monday that “I think there’s an effort, subtle, not to go deeply.”
“And I hadn’t realized it before, but I realize it now,” she continued. “And we’re going to have to find a way to deal with it.”
Feinstein added that she “can’t say” Grassley is trying to shut down the committee’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, including questions of potential obstruction of justice. And relations on the committee have not frayed entirely: Grassley’s and Feinstein’s aides are permitted to attend interviews that result from the other party’s letters of inquiry on Russia matters, according to a panel aide.
Another Judiciary Democrat, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, sounded a similar note to Feinstein, describing himself in a brief interview Monday as “very concerned about the stalled and slow pace of the Judiciary Committee. I think it needs to move forward with much greater urgency.”
A third Democrat on the committee, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, on Friday raised his own question by tweeting a portion of a New York Times report that described the president’s prodding an anonymous Republican senator — not to wind down any congressional Russia investigation, but to open a separate one into Fusion GPS, the firm behind a disputed dossier of incendiary charges about Trump.
“Is this why full Judiciary hearings have veered in this direction instead of Russia/obstruction?” Whitehouse asked.
Grassley has received no pressure from Trump regarding a Fusion GPS investigation, his spokesman Taylor Foy said, nor has the president appealed to him to stop investigating Russian electoral meddling.
“Chairman Grassley has never had a discussion with the ‘resident about ending the Judiciary Committee’s investigation into matters relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the president has never requested such a discussion,” Foy said by email.
Foy also questioned whether Democrats have avoided Republicans’ inquiries about Fusion GPS in order to protect the firm’s clients within their own ranks.
“It’s unclear whether the Democrats who refused to join in a bipartisan inquiry into Fusion’s role in the dossier knew at the outset that it was funded by the DNC or whether that motivated their desire to block any real scrutiny of the firm’s work on behalf of both its Democrat and Russian clients,” Foy said.
Fusion’s initial research on Trump was funded by the conservative Washington Free Beacon website, while the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid for the dossier that later resulted from it.
Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories