Representative Adam Schiff told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday that he was “more than willing” to meet author Christopher Steele “in any manner that he is comfortable,” even if it meant connecting with him on his own turf instead of in the House Intelligence Committee’s hearing room.
Schiff added that “other members of the committee would join me in that.”
His entreaty to Steele comes just one day after Schiff and committee Chairman Devin Nunes (Republican-California) announced they would hold an open hearing on March 20 - the first of their investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 elections.
The panel chiefs invited the FBI director, the director of national intelligence, and the former heads of the CIA and the Department of Justice to testify at the hearing. Nunes added that he would welcome the testimony of anyone else with information pertinent to the investigation, and would be willing to accommodate a closed-door forum for those with concerns about the sensitivity of the information they planned to disclose.
Steele could potentially fall into that category - though Nunes did not mention him specifically.
The former MI6 officer reemerged Tuesday after several weeks in apparent hiding. He eschewed the opportunity to comment on the firestorm set off by BuzzFeed’s publication of his secret, unsubstantiated report alleging Trump’s ties to Moscow range from financial entanglements to salacious trysts.
The report initially gained notoriety after intelligence community officials elected to brief then-president elect Trump on a summary of its contents, delivered alongside an official assessment that alleged Russian authorities masterminded a series of cyber hacks and disclosures of hacked information in an attempt to steer the presidential election in Trump’s favour.
Not everyone on Capitol Hill believes that assessment - or other accusations that Trump team members colluded with Kremlin authorities to advance the president’s candidacy - is entirely accurate.
“I don’t believe that to be the case,” Nunes said this week, when asked if he believed there was any coordination between the Trump team and Moscow. “I don’t think the evidence exists for that.”
Nunes noted that the investigation was in its early stages - a warning being repeated by leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee as they dig in on a similar probe.
“The American people deserve to hear all of the facts,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (Democrat-Virginia) said Wednesday, having recently returned from a visit to CIA headquarters at Langley where he said he and a small group of other senators combed through a “first round of documents” in “big, big binders” pertaining to the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the election.
The Washington Post
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