During an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell on Friday, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) expressed frustration that the intelligence community has so far resisted congressional requests to be forthcoming with their investigations into the Trump administration’s communication with Russian officials. He also suggested there were transcripts detailing what the FBI and other agencies know.
For months now, the intelligence community has been looking into whether senior officials within the Trump campaign (and now Trump White House) communicated or colluded inappropriately with Russian officials. The administration has already lost one cabinet official for his failure to disclose inappropriate communication with Russian diplomats, and on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his recusal from all ongoing and future investigations involving Russia after he too failed to disclose communications with Russian officials.
Democrats—and more than a few Republicans—on the Senate and House intelligence committees are insisting that the intelligence community cooperate with their own investigations into possible collussion or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to sway the outcome of the November election. So far, the FBI has resisted full disclosure of their findings.
‘‘I would say at this point we know less than a fraction of what the FBI knows,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) the top-ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, after a closed-door hearing with FBI Director James Comey. Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was less critical of Comey’s testimony, but did agree that the committee expected more information from Comey. He called the hearing “a good first step.”
“It think it’s important that the outcome of that counterintelligence investigation be fully shared with the intelligence committees, both in the house and the senate,” said Coons on Friday. “There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence and senior Russian political leaders, including Vladimir Putin, were cooperating, were colluding with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election.”
Coons made a point to note that while he hasn’t seen any transcripts—he does not sit on the Senate intelligence committee—he is convinced they do exist. He also declined to speculate about what the transcripts might contain, simply stating that the intelligence committees were entitled to be fully briefed on their contents.
“If that information is stonewalled or hidden away, and if we are not able to get that on the Senate intelligence, House intelligence committees, then I think that has real consequences for our democracy,” he said.
Republicans in congress are growing increasingly uncomfortable defending the Trump administration’s cozy relationship with Russia. News reports are turning up new connections between the White House and Russian officials on an almost weekly basis, and while Republicans have thus far resisted calls by their Democratic colleagues to launch independent congressional investigations into the White House, each new allegation appears to be weakening their resolve.