Democrats in the House are reportedly warning their Republican colleagues that if the GOP-led Intelligence Committee prematurely shuts down its investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, they'll issue a scathing minority report calling the probe a sham.
Democrats are upset because Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has refused to call Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump Jr. as witnesses so they can be grilled as part of the investigation, according to The Washington Post.
Rep. Jim Himes, the second highest ranked Democrat on the committee, told the paper that Democrats could write a minority report that would accuse the Republicans of having blocked the investigation by not giving the committee access to some witnesses.
"The report," he said, "would be largely about outstanding questions that were never examined.”
Nunes had temporarily relinquished his authority running the committee’s investigation in April after an ethics probe began into his contacts with the White House and management of classified information. That investigation was concluded at the beginning of December, and Nunes has reclaimed control of the committee’s probe into potential contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Nunes had said that he would not run the investigation while the ethics probe was underway, but once it concluded he asserted that he’d run the inquiry the whole time, telling Fox News, “I’m in charge. I was always in charge.”
In a separate story, the Post also reported that Nunes’s continued oversight of the investigation killed many Democratic requests for interviews and documents.
Himes is not the first Democrat on the panel to warn the GOP. In December the committee's ranking Democrat said that he was worried that the investigation would be wrapped up by Republicans without interviewing all necessary witnesses.
“It appears Republicans want to conduct just enough interviews to give the impression of a serious investigation,” Rep. Adam Smith tweeted on December 15.
Smith warned that by cutting off the House investigation Trump might be able to shape the Mueller probe.
“By shutting down the congressional investigations when they continue to discover new and important evidence, the White House can exert tremendous pressure to end or curtail Mueller’s investigation or cast doubt on it,” he wrote. “We cannot let that happen.”
Meanwhile, Nunes, a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, has been lauded by conservative media outlets for focussing the investigation away from Trump and instead onto a dossier produced by a former British intelligence agent that was funded by both Democrats and Republicans. Republicans insist the report shows some kind of malfeasance by the Clinton campaign, and should be the primary focus on any investigation into the 2016 election.
The House investigation is one of three major inquiries underway, with another being run by the Senate Intelligence Committee and one by FBI special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller’s is the only one of the three that could easily yield charges, and he has already charged four Trump campaign team staffers, while securing guilty pleas from two.