- The Washington Times - Monday, December 18, 2017

Republican lawmakers have intensified calls for an investigation into leaks of an interview with President Trump’s eldest son this month conducted by a congressional panel probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The push comes as members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence race through a calendar packed with high-profile interviews they seek to complete before their holiday recess.

On Monday, committee members privately interviewed Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, and Rob Goldstone, the music publicist who served as a critical go-between for the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer who promised to provide “dirt” on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

The panel also heard from Michael Sussmann of Perkins Coie LLP, the law firm that moved funds from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign to the Washington-based opposition research firm that commissioned a dossier on the Russian ties of Mr. Trump. By late Monday, few details had emerged from the closed-door hearings.

Earlier Monday, three Republican lawmakers sent a letter to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, formally requesting an investigation into the disclosure of Donald Trump Jr.’s Dec. 6 testimony before the House committee, which included several damaging and confusing leaks.

“Significant evidence that serious leaks have occurred in relation to the [committee] investigation into alleged Russian meddling of the 2016 election must be immediately addressed,” said the letter by Reps. Lee M. Zeldin of New York, Mia B. Love of Utah and John Ratcliffe of Texas.

They also demanded that any panel members or staff who violated rules about “leaking sensitive information to the press or other outside entities” should be removed from the House committee’s Russia investigation.

Since Mr. Trump Jr.’s hearing, calls for a deeper inquiry have escalated, especially after his attorney Alan Futerfas called attention to the actions of three Democratic committee members, including ranking minority member Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California.

Mr. Schiff’s spokesman Patrick Boland has said that the congressman and his staff “do not leak classified or confidential information,” but he added that there was a difference if a witness was not cooperating — which they said was the case with Mr. Trump Jr.

Infighting bubbled over the weekend when committee Democrats said they feared their Republican counterparts would shut down the investigation by year’s end because of pressure from the White House and not because the inquiry has run its course.

The New York Times reported that Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, told Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, that the year’s end represented a “natural boundary” to conclude the investigation.

“I feel no need to apologize for concluding an investigation,” Mr. Gowdy told the newspaper.

On Tuesday, the House panel will question FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Republicans have said they seek answers about how the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling originated, in addition to the role of the anti-Trump dossier in sparking calls for a broader investigation.



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