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Top Democrat on House Intelligence Committee says FBI withheld info on Trump–Russia probe

'We’re going to need the FBI to fully cooperate.'

Mar 2, 2017, 8:41 pm*

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Lauren L'Amie

The top Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee said on Thursday that FBI Director James Comey withheld information crucial to its investigation into Russian interference during President Donald Trump’s campaign.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters in a press briefing that the House panel’s investigation cannot be substantiated if the Justice Department or FBI is unwilling to reveal any leads they are following, Politico reports.

“In order for us to do our investigation in a thorough and credible way we’re going to need the FBI to fully cooperate,” Schiff says. “To be able to tell us the length and breadth of any counterintelligence investigations they’re conducting. At this point the director was not willing to do that.”

Schiff’s accusation follows the storm of unresolved allegations that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, during Trump’s campaign—encounters he failed to disclose under oath when he was sworn in as attorney general before members of Congress.

Thursday afternoon, Sessions recused himself from any probe related to the 2016 presidential campaign during a separate press conference at the Department of Justice.  

“I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,” Sessions says, “And the idea that I was part of a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government is totally false.”

But Sessions also revealed that he had, in fact, met with Russian officials twice before he officially endorsed Trump. When he responded to questions about his communication with Russia during his confirmation as attorney general, Sessions said he “did not respond by referring to the two meetings, one very brief after a speech and one with my professional staffers with the Russian ambassador in Washington.”

Ambassador Kislyak is the same representative who communicated with Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, who was later forced to resign for misleading top White House officials.

When asked whether or not he had met with other Russian officials since his endorsement of Trump, Sessions said “we meet a lot of people,” and that he could not recall.

Schiff said Comey was asked repeatedly about the “scope of any investigation they were doing” and any “individuals that may be the subject of any counterterrorism investigation.”

Schiff has not yet provided further commentary since Sessions’ recusal Thursday.

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*First Published: Mar 2, 2017, 5:12 pm