US House Intelligence Committee has ‘successful’ Russia hearing
The leaders of a House of Representatives probe of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election said they had a “successful” hearing on Thursday, projecting unity after a partisan division had threatened to derail their investigation.
Representatives Mike Conaway, the new Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee probe, and Adam Schiff, the top Democrat, addressed reporters together after Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, testified at a classified hearing.
“We had a very successful hearing,” Conaway said.
Schiff said the witnesses had provided “some additional insights,” and the committee was working together very well.
Neither responded to questions.
The committee’s Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, recused himself from the investigation and was replaced by Conaway last month after a dispute caused Democrats to question whether Nunes could credibly lead a probe of possible Russian attempts to influence the election in favor of President Donald Trump.
Russia denies the allegations.
Nunes had infuriated Democrats by telling reporters, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump – before informing committee Democrats – that he had seen documents showing that the communications of Trump associates had been caught up in surveillance.
It later emerged that Nunes, a close Trump ally, obtained the information at the White House, after the Republican president pushed back against suspicions that Russia boosted his campaign by making the unsubstantiated accusation that former President Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower in New York.
Schiff and Conaway later issued a joint statement on Thursday’s classified hearing saying they remained committed to working with the FBI as it continues its investigation. They said they are currently sending out invitations for witnesses to testify and requesting documents.
They said they were looking forward to the next steps of the investigation, including an open hearing with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and John Brennan, who was director of the Central Intelligence Agency under Obama.
Nunes canceled that hearing when it was originally scheduled in late March, frustrating Democrats, but the committee has now promised it will take place at a still undetermined date.
Yates and Clapper are due to testify in the Senate on Monday.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Jonathan Landay; editing by Phil Berlowitz)