The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will probe allegations of links between political campaign officials and the Russian government, as well as how classified information about alleged contacts came to be leaked to the media, its leaders announced late Wednesday.
Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and ranking Democrat Adam B. Schiff (Calif.) released the long-awaited document outlining four lines of inquiry for the committee’s investigation — a summary of a six-page document defining the scope of the investigation that remains classified.
The committee will probe whether Russia’s “active measures include links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns or any other U.S. person.” Such a category could include alleged contacts between Trump campaign members and Kremlin officials — although Nunes told reporters Monday he had seen no evidence that any improper contact had taken place.
Nunes has instead stressed the importance of finding out the source of leaks of classified information that revealed the phone calls between former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, as well as other reports of Trump advisers with ties to Russian officials. Those leaks are also a subject of the committee’s investigation.
The committee also pledged to explore what cyber activities and other active measures Russia directed against the United States or its allies, and the U.S. government’s response to those measures.
Nunes and Schiff said they would “seek access to and custody of all relevant information” to carry out the investigation, “including law enforcement and counterintelligence reports.” They promised, however, not to “impede any ongoing investigation.”
They pledged to conduct the investigation by doing interviews, taking testimony, and reviewing the underlying intelligence that contributed to the intelligence community’s recent assessment that Russia had interfered in the 2016 elections to assist Trump’s chances of victory. Nunes and Schiff stressed in their statement that they expected the intelligence community to “provide any other relevant intelligence to the committee,” as well.
The joint statement from Schiff and Nunes is a notable moment of bipartisanship in an otherwise rocky week for the committee, in which Schiff openly challenged Nunes’s determination that the intelligence would not establish any connections between the Russian government and the Trump team. Schiff argued that it was too early to make such a determination, given that the committee had not received any documents or conducted any witness interviews in the course of the investigation.
Nunes also came under fire for calling a reporter at the behest of the Trump administration to combat a New York Times story describing frequent contacts between the Trump team and the Russian government. He said he did not see anything inappropriate in making the phone call.
The statement publicly outlining parameters was expected to be released as early as Monday evening, but was delayed. Still, both leaders struck bipartisan, cooperative tones in the release Wednesday night.
Noting that the Intelligence Committee had been “investigating Russia for years,” Nunes said the committee was “determined to continue and expand its inquiries into these areas, including Russian activities related to the 2016 U.S. elections.”
“On a bipartisan basis, we will fully investigate all the evidence we collect and follow that evidence wherever it leads,” he added.
Schiff stressed that point as well, adding that “we must follow the facts wherever they may lead … and that must also include both the Russian hacking and dumping of documents as well as any potential collusion between Russia and U.S. citizens.”
“Anything less than a full accounting of all the facts will be insufficient to protect the country and meet the expectations of the American people,” he added.