Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Thursday that Democrats tried to call Russian agent Maria Butina to testify but Republicans refused because they worried that she would “tarnish the NRA.”
During an interview on CNN, host Alisyn Camerota asked Schiff if he was aware that Butina tried to establish backchannel communications between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We certainly knew about her and part of the role she was playing we didn’t know whether she was an agent of a foreign power,” Schiff explained, adding that the committee had email correspondence that talked about “setting up a secret back channel through the NRA.”
“We heard credible allegations that the Russians may have been funneling money through the NRA so, yes, we wanted to pursue this but like many other things,” he continued. “When it got too hot, the Republican reaction was, ‘We don’t want to know. We’d rather not know.'”
“But just to be clear,” Camerota pressed. “You’re saying that your Republican colleagues on the committee called her and said do not come in? How exactly did they block her sharing information with you?”
Schiff replied: “During the course of time when they were actively in the investigation, the majority that is, we said let’s bring in Maria Butina, here are the reasons why we should hear from her, here are the reasons why we should hear from Paul Erickson who is alleged to have been involved in setting up this secret back channel.”
“The Republicans were unwilling,” the California Democrat recalled. “They said no. We don’t want to have them come in, we don’t want to hear what they have to say. They wouldn’t explain why but it was very clear that anything that might tarnish the NRA, anything that might lead to discoverable evidence that might incriminate the White House or people around the president, they didn’t want to hear.”
Watch the video below from CNN.
‘They offered him no humanity’: Floyd family attorney rips Minneapolis for adding ‘insult to injury’
On Friday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," Ben Crump, the attorney for the family of George Floyd, expressed his outrage at how local officials are handling the case — and demanded harsher prosecution of the officers responsible.
"The family does not trust the Minneapolis Police Department or anybody affiliated with the Minneapolis Police Department, Anderson," said Crump. "Remember the first report that came out, they gave so much false information in that report, talking about George was resisting. George was threatening, saying that he died of a medical condition. Never once mentioning the fact that this officer had his knee on his neck, not just for one minute, two minutes, three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, six minutes, seven minutes but for eight minutes ... people need to understand, the last eight minutes of his life he was struggling to breathe, telling them I couldn't breathe, and they offered him no humanity."
WATCH: Protester scales Secret Service building to spray-paint profane anti-Trump message
On Friday, protests around the country continued against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
As CNN covered shots of protests in Washington, D.C., one demonstrator could clearly be seen scaling a Secret Service building, before taking out a can of spray paint and writing "F**K TRUMP" on the edifice.
Some commenters on social media noticed, and tweeted their support for the protester.
CNN’s Jim Acosta walks through all the times Trump has ‘thrown gasoline’ on racial tension
On CNN Friday, following President Donald Trump's abrupt exit from a press conference following a racially charged tweet, chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta broke down President Donald Trump's history of stoking racial tensions during moments of crisis.
"He is trying to clean up this tweet that he posted last night," said Acosta. "First, just what the president said a few moments ago. He said the looters in Minneapolis should not be able to drown out the voice of so many peaceful protesters. That, obviously, is a very mild version of what he was trying to say or he claims he was trying to say last night when he tweeted, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." That obviously is an expression steeped in all kinds of ugliness. The Miami Police chief back in 1967, when there was unrest in that city, used that expression. George Wallace, the segregationist, used words like that in 1968."