“We don’t know what happened.”
House investigators do not know the status of the counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., revealed in a phone interview with The Washington Post.
During the interview, Schiff said his committee has not been briefed on the counterintelligence investigation in close to two years. Schiff claimed he was getting ready to take action to find out the status of the probe.
“We don’t know what happened to the counterintelligence investigation that James Comey opened,” Schiff said.
Schiff added that at one time he would receive regular briefings on the investigation’s status, but the briefings became less frequent after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. Even the less frequent briefings contained a lack of information about the counterintelligence probe, according to Schiff.
Asked by The Post if it’s possible the probe had already been closed, Schiff, in a nutshell, said he doesn’t know.
“You know, I have not been able to get clarity on that,” Schiff said. “We have been seeking to get it, to get an answer from the Justice Department, from the counterintelligence division at the FBI, and we don’t have clarity, which is concerning.”
The counterintelligence investigation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, was opened at the height of the election in the summer of 2016. Australian diplomat Alexander Downer informed the FBI that Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos told him that Russia had damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in that year’s election.
The counterintelligence investigation was likely wrapped into Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, which eventually found no evidence of criminal collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
Still, Schiff claimed he needed the full Mueller reports and briefings on the status of the counterintelligence investigation to get a picture of Trump’s ties to Russia. More specifically, Schiff pointed to a proposed plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow as concerning for someone running for president.
“They’re at one time not necessarily a criminal activity and at the same time potentially far more serious than criminal activity because you have the capacity to warp U.S. policy owing to some form of compromise,” Schiff said.
Democrats have continued to claim Trump’s ties to Russia are concerning, despite the Mueller report finding a lack of evidence that his campaign conspired with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
Trump has repeatedly characterized the Russia probe as a politically motivated “witch hunt,” and a March USA Today poll showed the majority of Americans agree. Undeterred, Schiff told CNN last month that he has no plans to stop insisting there is evidence that Trump colluded with Russia.
In April, Schiff said there was “ample evidence of collusion in plain sight” during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”