Congressional committees investigate a wide range of issues including investigations into foreign affairs, military and homeland security matters. They also hold hearings to gather evidence to help shape public policy. Committee News covers the work of these committees as they conduct their investigations and report on their findings.
The House Intelligence Committee released a long-awaited memo Monday that highlights 17 findings from its investigation into Russian election interference and Trump’s attempted obstruction of the inquiry. The memo also outlines several potential criminal referrals the panel may send to the Justice Department.
Investigators sifted through millions of documents, contacted nearly 40 witnesses and issued 37 subpoenas as they probed claims that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election. According to the memo, investigators reviewed 1.7 million pages of text messages and emails and made more than 500 voluntary requests for information. They also conducted more than 30 interviews, and used a variety of investigative tools, including secret recordings.
The memo reveals the committee found that the Trump campaign and senior White House staff coordinated with telecommunications companies to collect thousands of text messages from the accounts of at least seven people, including Trump himself. It also outlines how witnesses were encouraged to invoke executive privilege or claim ignorance of facts during their testimony. For example, one witness was told by her lawyer that it is “perfectly acceptable” to say she doesn’t recall facts when she actually does recall them, the summary states. The memo also alleges that a witness for the Trump legal team was told to use “tricks” during her interview, such as telling investigators she didn’t recall the specific words she said to the president to help him avoid self-incrimination. The summary points out that the panel was unable to learn more about Trump’s direct conversations with White House counsel Pat Cipollone because of invocations of executive privilege. However, the panel is optimistic that a recent, under-seal court victory will allow prosecutors to obtain Cipollone’s full testimony.
Committee members have promised to make as much of their work as possible public, and that includes releasing the videotapes from hundreds of interviews conducted by panel staff. But some of that footage will remain private, such as the recording of an interview with a donor to Trump’s super PAC, who has donated the maximum amount allowed by law to the panel. The panel plans to send those and other committee records to the National Archives, where by law they will become available in 50 years.