Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are taking names and looking for prosecutions. They are reviewing transcripts of interviews conducted during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Committee Democrats will refer any witnesses who lied to the panel to the Justice Department for prosecution.
“We’re gonna be going through the transcripts and analyzing them for any concerns we have with the greater body of information we have,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said. “We’ll discuss it with the majority and ask whether they’ll join us in a referral, or, if we think one is warranted, then we reserve the right to make a referral even if they don’t.”
According to sources aware of the committee’s wishes, Democrats sealed their plans to pursue criminal referrals this past week when their Republican colleagues abruptly decided to end the panel’s investigation.
Rep. Schiff and some other Democrats have recently questioned the veracity of the testimony given by three witnesses: Erik Prince, the former head of the security firm Blackwater and the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; Carter Page, a former Trump campaign national security aide; and Roger Stone, a longtime Trump political adviser.
“As additional things come to light, if there are reports of witnesses saying things that are inconsistent with what has been said to the committee, that list could grow,” Schiff noted.
Erik Prince testified during a November 30th committee interview that a United Arab Emirates-brokered meeting he had in Seychelles with a Russian fund manager close to Russian President Vladimir Putin was unplanned. But new reports indicate that Mueller has information that shows the meeting was a part of an effort by Trump’s transition team to set up back-channel communications with the Kremlin.
Carter Page first denied and then downplayed meetings with Russian officials in his testimony to the committee last Fall. Schiff wrote in a memo last month that the FBI has information that contradicts this testimony.
Roger Stone reportedly told the panel last September that he had no direct contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. But there are recent reports that create doubt about Stone’s denial.
The three men maintain that they have spoken honestly.
“I never ever have represented as anyone from the Trump transition, and the only reason I went to Seychelles was to see Mohammed bin Zayed,” the United Arab Emirates’ crown prince. Prince said last week. “No one from the Trump transition team knew I was going,” Prince added.
Prosecutors on Mueller’s team have already used false statement charges to garner cooperation from three witnesses: Michael Flynn, Alex Van Deer Zwaan and Rick Gates. Paul Manafort also faces charges of making false statements to the Justice Department.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a senior committee member, dismissed Democrats’ efforts to refer witnesses for the prosecution: “Those guys just keep trying.”
Do you support these Democratic referrals to the Justice Department?
Credit: Mother Jones