Comey's visit comes after Schiff accused the FBI director of stonewalling House members
Lawmakers have amped up their investigations into Russia's interference in the US elections
FBI Director James Comey spent Thursday afternoon on Capitol Hill meeting with the eight lawmakers who have access to the most highly classified information, sources told CNN.
Comey was scheduled to meet with the House members of the so-called Gang of Eight at 5 p.m., and he met earlier in the afternoon with the senators in the group – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence committee, Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Democrat Mark Warner respectively.
The House members include House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff.
Comey’s visit comes after Schiff accused the FBI director of stonewalling House members in a briefing last week and both Schiff and Nunes aired their concerns that Comey had been withholding information from the group through last year.
Lawmakers have amped up their investigations into Russia’s interference in the US elections and communications with the campaign of President Donald Trump. The House Intelligence Committee set an aggressive timeline of gathering intelligence by March 17 and hosting its first public hearing March 20.
Trump’s own accusations that he was wire-tapped by the administration of former President Barack Obama only added fuel to the fire – Republican lawmakers largely stepped away from Trump’s unverified allegations, but lawmakers have said they plan to investigate whether surveillance of Trump’s Manhattan headquarters was conducted last year.
Meanwhile, some Democrats said they may be ready to issue subpoenas for Trump’s tax returns in order to find more answers in their continuing investigations.
Sources on the Senate Intelligence Committee said they want all the potential Trump associates who allegedly spoke with Russian officials to testify before the committee. This includes former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former adviser Carter Page. It’s unclear when they would come before the committee, but senators say they haven’t ruled out the prospect of subpoenas if those Trump associates don’t comply.
This is partly because senators who have gone to CIA headquarters in Langley said they have reviewed information about the extent of the aggressive Russian attacks trying to influence the US election. But the senators have not yet pieced together the information to determine any potential collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a veteran Democrat on the intelligence panel, said she wants Trump’s tax returns as part of this investigation.
“The tax returns become a primary lead into a Russia connection – and that would be Russian money in his businesses. He’s visited Russia six times by his own voice on television. Who knows what the situation is?”
Warner told CNN that the Senate committee is getting access to classified intelligence usually reserved for the “Gang of Eight,” part of an effort to dig deeply into the issue of Russia’s meddling with the US election last year.