By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats on the congressional intelligence committee said Tuesday that they will soon be allowed to view documents at the center of a political storm surrounding the investigation of possible links between President Donald Trump‘s campaign and Russia.
Representative Adam Schiff, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said documents that White House officials provided to the panel’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes, will be available to all members of his committee and their Senate counterparts.
“This action is long overdue and follows an inexplicable series of events in which the White House played a role in the selective and surreptitious delivery of documents to our president,” Schiff said in a statement.
“If the White House had any concerns about these documents, or any other document, they should have given them to our committee weeks ago,” he said.
Congressional committees and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating what US intelligence has concluded were attempts by Moscow to influence the US election in favor of Trump. They are also looking for ties between Russia and Trump. Russia denies such accusations.
Trump and his allies have mounted an aggressive defense. More recently, they have focused on unsubstantiated reports that Susan Rice, former President Barack Obama‘s national security adviser, revealed the names of Trump aides captured by surveillance of foreign targets.
Rice dismissed the reports as “absolutely false” in an interview with MSNBC.
The day after FBI Director James Comey confirmed the FBI investigation into possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign last month, Nunes announced to reporters that communications from members of Trump’s transition team they were caught in surveillance.
He said the information came from documents obtained from a source he did not identify.
Nunes, a close political ally of Trump, discussed the matter with the Republican president before consulting with the committee’s Democrats.
After Nunes obtained the documents from White House aides, Schiff asked him to withdraw from the investigation, saying his actions compromised the panel’s ability to complete a credible bipartisan investigation.
Republican Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose leaders have insisted they can conduct a bipartisan investigation, said Tuesday that he was willing to investigate Rice’s allegations, if they turned out to be true.
Democrats underscored the seriousness of the investigation.
“I would not be surprised if, after all this said and done, some people end up in jail,” Representative Joaquín Castro, a member of House Intelligence, told CNN.
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