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Rep. Adam Schiff Shares Details Of House Intel Hearing On Russian Election Meddling


The House Intelligence Committee held a closed-door hearing today. That's notable for a few reasons. It was the panel's first hearing in six weeks, and it's an indication that the committee is trying to get its probe of Russia's meddling in the presidential election back on track after it was derailed by partisan politics. FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers testified. They testified in open session in the Senate yesterday. Congressman Adam Schiff of California is the committee's top Democrat, and he joins us once again. Welcome to the program.

ADAM SCHIFF: Thank you. It's great to be with you.

SIEGEL: Did you learn anything new from FBI Director Comey and Admiral Rogers today?

SCHIFF: We did. We had an opportunity to ask a number of the questions that they couldn't answer in closed session. Now, not all of those could be answered even in - I'm sorry - in the open session, but still, not all those questions could be answered in closed session. Nonetheless, we did, I think, get some good new information, and we explored the three core areas of our investigation. That is, the intelligence community's assessment - we want to make sure that was supported by the raw intelligence - the U.S. government response when we knew the Russians had been hacking our system and of course the issue of whether there were U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign coordinating or colluding in any way with the Russians.

SIEGEL: Let's go straight to number three. Have you heard anything so far that suggests the Trump campaign knew that Russia was interfering in the election to help Donald Trump win?

SCHIFF: Well, I can't go into any of the testimony we had today. But of course - so we do know that in July of last year - in late July - then candidate Trump in an open press conference made the statement, hey, Russians, if you're listening, please hack Hillary Clinton's emails. You'll be richly rewarded. He was saying that not out of the blue. He didn't pick the Russians out of the blue. He was saying that because it was already the wide perception that the Russians were involved in hacking and dumping. And here, he was openly encouraging exactly that.

SIEGEL: Yeah. That was a public event, though. I mean, is there anything that the investigation has turned up that is more nefarious than that and not so public?

SCHIFF: Well, certainly, you know, one of the issues that we're investigating is whether in addition to the president - now president's direct and open call for the Russians to do more, whether there was any kind of coordination between any of his team privately and the Russians, now that's very much within the scope of our investigation. I can't comment on what evidence we may have uncovered or the FBI may be uncovering. But that is certainly one of our keen areas of focus.

SIEGEL: Has the Justice Department, including the FBI, have they been forthcoming in providing the information to help the committee investigate this?

SCHIFF: Well, here's the challenge - there's a certain amount obviously that they have said in public, and they acknowledged during our first hearing that the FBI is doing its own counterintelligence investigation. There's a certain amount they're willing to testify in private closed session as we had today. There's another category yet that they may be willing to share with the members of the Gang of Eight. And we are encouraging the...

SIEGEL: The Gang of Eight would be the ranking members and the top leaders in Congress.

SCHIFF: Exactly, exactly. And we're encouraging the FBI and the Justice Department to improve sharing any information it may have, not just with Gang of Eight members but with our entire committee. After all, we're doing one investigation in our committee. It can't be a separate investigation by Gang of Eight members, non-Gang of Eight members. So we are certainly encouraging the FBI to the degree there's anything that is at the Gang of Eight level that ought to be shared with the full committee.

SIEGEL: Congressman Adam Schiff of California, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, thanks for talking with us today about the hearing.

SCHIFF: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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