Intel Committee Ranking Member Schiff Statement on Special Counsel Indictments and Plea
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, released the following statement:
“Today’s indictment of former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and Trump Campaign official Rick Gates, and news of a prior plea by Trump Campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, are both enormously consequential developments in the Russia investigations being conducted by the Special Counsel and by Congress. These developments will and may have already generated new lines of inquiry for the Special Counsel, and could provide invaluable insights on core issues we are investigating on the Committee. It will be important for Congress ultimately to hear from Mr. Manafort, Mr. Gates, and Mr. Papadopoulos, to ensure the congressional investigations incorporate relevant information and develop a comprehensive understanding of these individuals’ actions.
“The charges against Manafort and Gates allege a vast money laundering scheme and hidden work they performed for pro-Russian leaders and political parties in Ukraine — as well as other crimes. Although the President claims that these charges are unrelated to his presidential campaign, it has been reported that Mr. Manafort made overtures during the campaign to an oligarch close to Putin — Oleg Deripaska — offering information on the Trump campaign. It remains to be seen how the prosecution of Manafort and Gates will be resolved, but it may shed new light on both the Trump Tower meeting, in which the Russians offered information to the campaign, Manafort’s own alleged offer running in the opposite direction, and other possible contacts.
“The facts described by the Special Counsel’s Office in its Statement of Offense, to which Papadopoulos has agreed, directly relate to the issue of collusion. They set out what appears to be a classic Russian intelligence operation, in which a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign was approached in London — or bumped, in intelligence parlance – by a person claiming to have substantial connections to Russian officials. This initial contact led to the establishment of a relationship between Papadopoulos and his interlocutors, which itself led to more meetings and discussions with, and overtures from, Russians. Of key significance is that in late April of 2016 one of Papadopoulos’ Russian contacts informed Papadopoulos that the Russians possessed “thousands” of stolen Clinton emails and other “dirt” on Clinton. That conversation took place before the American people were even aware that emails had in fact been stolen by the Russian government from both Clinton campaign officials as well as the Democratic National Committee.
“Mr. Papadopoulos lied to federal authorities about these and other interactions, in only the most recent example of a Trump campaign official making false statements about contacts with the Russian government. His plea also establishes that at the time Manafort, Kushner and Don Jr. met at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer with close Kremlin ties, the Trump campaign already had been informed that the Russians were in possession of the Clinton emails — something that might further explain both why the high level Trump campaign officials took the meeting and what they hoped to obtain.
“Today’s actions by the Special Counsel may prompt the White House and its allies to push back even more strongly — by seeking to curtail the congressional investigations or the Special Counsel’s work prematurely, by shifting the focus to investigating the President’s former opponent, or by other means. Whatever the response, Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – must make clear that we as an institution will do everything in our power to protect the Special Counsel’s independence. And we will continue to do our jobs and investigate, because we owe the American people a full accounting of Russia's attack on our democracy.”