House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is sinking panel resources into a robust investigative staff to revive the probe into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia with roughly seven committee staffers directing their energy full-time.
Schiff and the Democrats have made offers to six new staffers, CBS News reported, including a corruption expert and a former prosecutor. The committee is still looking to hire six more people as Schiff restructures the subcommittee and plans targeted lines of inquiry into the president and his 2016 campaign staff’s connections with Russian officials.
Democrats on the committee will more than double their staff, from 11 to 24 people. About seven will work on the resuscitated Russia probe full-time, while others will help out on a “surge” basis, according to CBS, citing a senior committee official.
“There’s a lot of work yet to be done on Russia,” the official said. “What we’re doing is we are creating a purpose-built team that will take the point on that.”
Ranking member Devin Nunes of California shelved the committee’s Russia probe last spring and issued a final report saying that his investigators found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russians. Republicans also questioned the intelligence community’s “analytic tradecraft” that led to its assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin took steps to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Democrats quickly cobbled together a counter-memo objecting to Republican conclusions from the investigation.
Now in the majority, Schiff has the resources to address one of his longstanding gripes: the size and specialization of his staff. At the Council of Foreign Relations last February, Schiff said he envied the special counsel team Robert S. Mueller III assembled and the wide-ranging investigative instruments it had at its disposal.
“I have a phenomenal staff,” Schiff said at the time, CBS reported. “They’re bright and they work 24/7, seven days a week and they do it with no windows.”
“[B]ut they’re largely analysts,” Schiff said. “They’re not trained to be investigators.”
Other Democratic committee leaders with significant oversight responsibilities have begun adding to their staffs, including Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings.
“There’s so much [to investigate],” Cummings said on “60 Minutes” on Sunday. “We’ve got to hit the ground not running, but flying.”
Watch: Burr on Russia Investigation: ‘We’ve Gotta Do It on Facts’