Himes: GOP wants to keep Congress’ Russian probe from public

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U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District

Washington – Rep. Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the GOP head of the panel wants to hide its probe of any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia behind closed doors.

On Friday Chairman Devon Nunes, R-Calif., canceled open committee hearings with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

Instead, the intelligence panel will hold a closed-door hearing with FBI Director James Comey and National Security Advisor Mike Rogers.

“It’s a naked attempt to shut down an open hearing,” Himes said.

Himes said there are good reasons for Comey and Rogers to reappear before the intelligence committee.

During an open hearing Monday, Comey disclosed the FBI was investigating any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and said there was no evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claims the Obama administration had wiretapped him.

Himes said Nunes and fellow GOP lawmakers don’t want any more information about those issues released in a public forum. The fissure between Republicans and Democrats on the intelligence panel grew this week after Nunes made a dramatic announcement that Trump and his aides were “monitored,” by U.S. intelligence agencies — a claim he walked back on Friday.

Nunes told reporters Friday he can’t be sure whether conversations among Trump or his aides were captured in the surveillance.

Nunes also said the attorney for Paul Manafort, a New Britain native who once ran the Trump campaign, contacted the House Intelligence Committee Thursday “to offer the committee the opportunity to interview his client.”

“We thank Mr. Manafort for volunteering and encourage others with knowledge of these issues to voluntarily interview with the committee,” Nunes said.

“All of this needs to be taken out of a partisan establishment,” Himes said of the Russia probe.

Himes favors an investigation by a non-partisan panel, like the 9-11 Commission that investigated the terror attacks on New York and Washington.

But Himes said Democrats can’t afford to walk away from the intelligence committee’s actions.

“I don’t really want to go there right now,” he said. ”One of goals (of the Republicans) is to get Democrats to march away from the committee.”

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