Schiff: Trump promised documents, but WH staff is fighting release

(CNN)The top Democrat on the House Russia investigation, Rep. Adam Schiff, said Wednesday President Donald Trump personally promised documents at the center of “unmasking” allegations would be made available to all members of the House intelligence committee, but that White House staff is fighting those documents’ release.

“The President, when I met with him, said that he is happy to have whoever we wanted review the documents. His staff has opposed that, they were opposed to even letting my own staff review the documents, my staff director,” Schiff told CNN on Wednesday. “So we’re still trying to get those documents for the full committee, we would like the White House’s help if they are sincere about wanting to share this information and have the oversight functions performed, they are to be facilitating this.”
He added, “But as yet we have not been able to make those documents available to the full committee.”
    A White House spokesperson said the administration “has made all relevant documents available to Mr. Schiff and the Gang of Eight,” referencing the leaders of both parties in both chambers, as well as the intelligence committee chairmen and ranking members in each chamber.
    “As the ranking member well knows, for decades the intelligence community has made intelligence reports as sensitive as these documents available only to the Gang of Eight and their cleared staff members,” the spokesperson said.

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    The spokesperson also noted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s cleared staff member was at the White House complex Tuesday to view the documents.
    Schiff also said he has signed on to two formal invites — one inviting FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers to return to the House intelligence committee and a second rescheduling the public hearing with former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
    But Schiff said that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has not yet signed the letter to bring Yates, Brennan and Clapper before investigators.
    A Republican source responded to Schiff’s comments by saying the committee “is committed to speaking to Comey, Rogers, Yates, Clapper, and Brennan, and the committee is now working out arrangements for all five of them to appear.”
    “Because Comey and Rogers were unable to answer around 100 questions at their open hearing, there is discussion about whether the questions put to some of these witnesses can be answered in another open hearing or would require a classified setting,” the source added.
    The White House intelligence documents have taken on greater importance in the two weeks since Nunes secretly traveled to the White House grounds to view them. The intelligence has formed the core of Trump’s argument that former national security adviser Susan Rice spied on him, and Trump himself upped the ante in a New York Times interview saying he believed Rice committed a crime.
    Schiff first mentioned his issues obtaining those documents earlier Wednesday.
    “The White House clearly only wanted one person to see these documents, and that person was our chairman,” Schiff said on CNN’s “New Day,” referring to Nunes’ coordination with White House staff to review documents showing top Trump aides were picked up in “incidental” collection by US intelligence.
    “I want the full committees to be able to see that, and we’re meeting resistance,” Schiff said. “If these documents are so damning or so indicating of the President, as he suggests, why are they opposing efforts to provide them to the full committee? I think that’s a question worthy of the White House answering.”
    Schiff’s accusation marks a turn from just one day ago, when he said that the White House promised to show its intelligence to the other members of the House intelligence committee. Some lawmakers even said they might travel to the White House as early as Tuesday afternoon to review the intelligence, but as of Wednesday morning, Schiff and Nunes were the only lawmakers to have seen the intelligence reports.
    The intelligence reports at the White House are at the center of two weeks of chaos that led top Democrats to call on Nunes to recuse himself from the House Russia investigation and, later, formed the core of Trump’s argument that former national security adviser Susan Rice was responsible for surveillance against him.
    Since Rice’s name first surfaced in conservative media outlets Monday, interest has grown in what the intelligence reports actually show.
    Pelosi said Wednesday she plans to review the intelligence and doesn’t “expect to” run into any resistance from the White House.
    “I expect that I will see that,” Pelosi said Wednesday. She then accused Trump of making House Republicans look like “fools.”
    “The White House has made fools of their allies in the House of Representatives in the way they’ve handled this,” Pelosi said. “They cook up some intelligence. They bring the chairman of the committee — a very distinguished position which he has tarnished — they use him as a tool to tell him what they have cooked up, now you go tell the President what we have cooked up and try to represent to the American people that this is legitimate intelligence.”
    This story has been updated to reflect breaking news.

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