On Thursday afternoon, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, made a dramatic request: He essentially asked special counsel Robert Mueller to consider whether perjury charges should be brought against witnesses who testified to the committee during its Trump-Russia investigation.
Schiff did not convey this request directly to Mueller. Rather, he released a letter he sent on May 23 to Rep. Devin Nunes (R.-Calif), the chairman of the committee, asking that the committee hand over to Mueller the transcripts of all the interviews it conducted during the probe. Nearly all of those interviews were conducted privately, without the transcripts being made public. Nunes shut down the committee’s investigation in March.
“These materials may be important to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, and shed additional light on the issues of collusion and obstruction of justice,” Schiff wrote to Nunes. “I also have concerns that certain witnesses may have testified untruthfully before our committee, and believe that Mr. Mueller should consider whether perjury charges are warranted in light of the additional evidence in his possession.”
In the letter, Schiff noted that Rep. Mike Conaway (Texas), who led the Russia investigation for the committee’s Republicans, and other GOPers on the panel had repeatedly promised to make these transcripts public at the end of the inquiry. But, Schiff wrote, they have “abandoned this pledge under the unsupported pretext of protecting the Special Counsel’s investigation.” Schiff reported that he has asked Mueller if he has any objections to the committee releasing the transcripts and that Mueller has none.
“[U]ntil the Majority lives up to its commitment to make the transcripts public,” Schiff wrote, “they must be shared with Special Counsel to assist his investigation and, as appropriate, to allow him to assess whether witnesses violated federal law by providing false testimony.”
Questions have been raised about the accuracy of testimony presented to the committee by such key witnesses as Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince, and Roger Stone. And Democratic members of the committee have long grumbled that the Republicans in control have declined to follow up on testimony that the Democrats suspect was inaccurate or misleading. They note that the Republicans declined their requests for call-back interviews and for subpoenas of records and documents that could be used to verify or challenge testimony.
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