Adam Schiff aims to boost Robert Mueller with Trump campaign interrogations
Trump campaign alumni are bracing for return interrogations on Capitol Hill now that Rep. Adam B. Schiff is taking over the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The do-overs would help the California Democrat fulfill promises of a full-throttle attack on President Trump, including forays into his business empire and the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory. The final report of the committee’s Republican majority cleared the Trump campaign of any election collusion.
“What will oversight look like under a Democratic majority?” Mr. Schiff wrote in an October op-ed in The Washington Post. “Given the wealth of disturbing conduct by the Trump administration, our caucus will need to ruthlessly prioritize the most important matters first.
“We are going to need to ruthlessly prioritize on the intel committee which investigative threads we go down,” he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Mr. Schiff, an avowed fan of the Democratic Party-financed, unverified anti-Trump dossier, has likened his upcoming probe to a criminal investigation that will aid special counsel Robert Mueller.
In the past two years, Mr. Schiff often stated dissatisfaction with the witness list and testimony under committee Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican. Mr. Nunes’ allies accused Mr. Schiff’s minority side of leaking closed-door testimony to the liberal media, some of which was highly inaccurate.
A number of Trump people already have gone through a gauntlet of inquisitions. The tour included stops at the House intelligence committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Judiciary Committee and Mr. Mueller’s prosecution team of lawyers and FBI agents.
The pool of further interrogations include campaign figures Donald Trump Jr., former campaign advisers Michael Caputo and J.D. Gordon, former White House communications director Hope Hicks, former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen, and businessmen Erik Prince and Carter Page.
“Like I’ve always said, I’ve been ready and willing to talk with anyone who wants to speak,” Mr. Page told The Washington Times. “Other than pure harassment, I can’t think of what more they’d like to possibly discuss, though.”
Mr. Page, briefly a Trump campaign volunteer, is perhaps the most-interviewed Trump figure, having spent time before House and Senate committees and meetings with the FBI without an attorney.
He can thank the dossier, a compilation of Trump-Russia collusion charges made by former British spy Christopher Steele, who was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Mr. Steele alleged that Mr. Page, while on a trip to Moscow in July 2016 to deliver a public speech, met with two aides of Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed bribes for removing economic sanctions.
Mr. Page, an energy investor who once worked in Moscow, denied that he met with the Russians. Mr. Schiff mocked his denials when he testified, a hearing transcript shows.
Mr. Steele also accused Mr. Page of working in tandem with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to help the Kremlin hack Democratic Party computers. Mr. Page testified that he has never met or spoken with Mr. Manafort and that there is no public evidence to the contrary.
Mr. Page has not been charged.
In fact, no public confirmation has emerged proving any of Mr. Steele’s core collusion charges.
The FBI used the dossier to persuade federal judges to grant a year’s worth of wiretap warrants on Mr. Page.
Same old questions
Michael Caputo, a campaign public relations consultant and colleague of Republican operative and Trump friend Roger Stone, likewise has gone through the congressional wringer.
He is the rebel in the group. While testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in May, Mr. Caputo read a stinging indictment of the lingering process.
“Today, I can’t possibly pay the attendant legal costs and live near my aging father, raising my kids where I grew up,” said Mr. Caputo, a resident of upstate New York. “Your investigation and others into the allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia are costing my family a great deal of money more than $125,000 and making a visceral impact on my children.”
He concluded with, “God damn you to hell.”
He released the statement to the news media. His tale triggered a flood of contributions to his GoFundMe page, where he has raised $358,000 to date.
“Michael has endured hours of redundant testimony before various U.S. government bodies, each time requiring many hours of highly specialized and expensive legal assistance,” his GoFundMe profile says.
Mr. Caputo has not been accused of any specific collusion charge.
He declined to comment to The Times, but friends say he is preparing for a Schiff interrogation.
Senate intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, told The Associated Press that he has not seen confirmed evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.
Michael Cohen also may pay a return visit to face Schiff questions.
Cohen is a different man today from the one who testified this spring as a Trump loyalist. He has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in New York to tax evasion and campaign finance violations and is talking to federal prosecutors.
The charges say he arranged $280,000 in payments to influence the 2016 campaign by silencing two women who say they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors have evidence that Mr. Trump played a role in financing the nondisclosure agreements. The president denies the affairs.
Yet another possible reappearance before the House intelligence committee is Erik Prince, the former Navy SEAL who built a fortune providing private paramilitary security services, including to U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
He testified last November before the House committee. He became so frustrated with Democrats’ questions that he threatened to walk out, according to a transcript.
Mr. Mueller is examining a trip Mr. Prince took in January 2017 to meet United Arab Emirates officials in the Seychelles to talk business. While there, Mr. Prince spoke briefly with a Russian investor tied to Mr. Putin. Mr. Prince was an infrequent adviser to the Trump team, but he denied he was a back channel to Russia, as Mr. Schiff suggested. He has not been charged.
As for Mr. Schiff, he plans to use contacts between rich Russians and the Trump Organization in New York to justify an investigation into the president’s hotel/condo business.
“There are serious and credible allegations the Russians may possess financial leverage over the president, including perhaps the laundering of Russian money through his businesses,” said Mr. Schiff, citing an opinion piece in The New York Times that has promoted the Trump-Russia narrative. “It would be negligent to our national security not to find out.”
The committee under Republican rule didn’t hear such allegations, sources say.
In all, Mr. Nunes’ Russia investigation involved 73 witnesses, about two dozen of whom were Trump associates.