It’s a new day in the House now that it is under Democrats’ control, and the new House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), says he will give the Mueller investigation transcripts of witness testimony before the committee, testimony from figures like Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Roger Stone, the transcripts of which Republicans had withheld from Mueller when they controlled the House. Schiff in an interview today called this “trying to deconflict” with the Mueller investigation, according to The Guardian, implying of course that Republicans had intentionally tried to conflict with that investigation.
One of the ways in which this move is important is that if any of the testimony provided conflicts with other forms of evidence in possession of the Mueller investigation, perjury charges could apply, as of course it is against the law to lie in testimony before Congress. Applicable perjury charges provide both legal consequences as well as leverage in getting those charged with it to cooperate with the Mueller investigation, as we have already seen with such figures as Michael Cohen. Schiff said in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union that he would not only be handing over the transcripts, but that it would be “one of our first acts” by the House Intelligence Committee. According to The Guardian:
Donald Trump Jr and long-term Trump aide Roger Stone face a heightened threat of criminal charges as Democrats on Capitol Hill prepare to hand evidence to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation…Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Schiff made clear he would be handing over transcripts which had been withheld from Mueller’s investigation by Republicans when they controlled the panel. The committee staged 73 interviews with dozens of witnesses, including Jared Kushner, Trump Jr and Stone. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, has already pleaded guilty to perjury for lying to Congress over attempts to make a deal to construct a Trump Tower in Moscow. Schiff said he was “trying to deconflict” with special counsel Mueller’s investigation because over the last two years the committee, under Republican leadership, had actively tried to make the special counsel’s work more difficult. Schiff said he planned “as one of our first acts to make the transcripts of our witnesses fully available to special counsel for any purpose, including the bringing of perjury charges”.
The Republicans’ lack of cooperation with the Mueller investigation on this point was and is shocking and ethically dubious at best. It is reasonable to expect Congress to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s investigation, and that is what Democrats are moving to do now, which Schiff calls “trying to deconflict”, but really is just as simple as their doing their jobs. It is a new day indeed, and the Trump administration can expect that the Democratic majority in the House will be making more moves to provide and support oversight of the administration, rather than giving the administration a free pass the way Republicans largely did when they held the majority in the House and therefore controlled all the committees, including the House Intelligence Committee.