Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the most senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has accused FBI director James Comey of withholding critical information about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This accusation followed an extended FBI briefing.
Schiff told the press:
“I would say at this point we know less than a fraction of what the FBI knows. I appreciate we had a long briefing and testimony from the director today, but in order for us to do our investigation in a thorough and credible way, we’re gonna need the FBI to fully cooperate, to be willing to tell us the length and breadth of any counterintelligence investigations they are conducting. At this point, the director was not willing to do that.”
Schiff has every right to be furious. The FBI’s refusal to fully inform congressional intelligence committees makes it impossible for our lawmakers to do their jobs. Comey’s coy tactics continue even as a second member of the Donald Trump team, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has become ensnared in the ever-deepening Russia scandal.
Former general Michael Flynn was already forced to resign in disgrace after it was revealed that he had illegal contacts with Russian operatives before Trump took office. Connections between the Trump White House and Russia are further complicated by the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere with America’s election with the intent of electing Trump.
This is far from the first time that Comey’s FBI has been accused of misconduct. Just weeks before the election, life-long Republican Comey sent a public letter to Congress announcing a baseless further investigation in Hillary Clinton’s emails. He neglected to mention that the FBI was also investigating the Trump campaign for illegal contacts with Russia. This letter likely cost Clinton the election.
Schiff indicated that he suspects the Department of Justice under Sessions might be partially responsible for the FBI’s attempts today to hide crucial investigation details.
He furiously said, “That [refusal to answer questions] can’t persist. If we’re gonna do our job, the FBI is going to have to fully cooperate with us, and that means they can’t say, ‘We’ll tell you about this, but we won’t tell you about that.’”
Schiff continued with determination to say that the FBI must cooperate “because we’re gonna need that information. And we’re better off getting that through the voluntary cooperation of the FBI than having to contemplate whether we need to subpoena the FBI.”
The threat to subpoena the FBI is an indication of just how grave this situation is. Comey is clearly hiding something from representatives of the American people – Schiff’s statements testify to this. The question remains, what is he hiding? And importantly, why is he hiding it?