Politics

GOP Judiciary Members Complain They’re in the Dark on Russia Probe

Kennedy says his access has been ‘zero, zilch, nada’

Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy requested a status update on the Judiciary Committee’s Russia investigation Thursday, saying he and other panel members are being kept out of the loop. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voiced frustration Thursday that they weren’t being kept in the loop on the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana summed up his access to information from the panel investigation this way: “I’ve seen nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.”

Kennedy brought up the issue at the end of an otherwise sedate committee meeting, asking Chairman Charles E. Grassley for a status report on the “various and sundry investigations we have ongoing so we can be brought up to speed.”

Texan John Cornyn, the majority whip, added to that sentiment and said it was important all members get a chance to be informed of what the committee is doing.

“I think members of the committee are finding ourselves reading about the investigation in the press as a result of various stories,” Cornyn said.

Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, said they would look into such a status report for the panel, which is one of three congressional committees investigating Russian influence in the election.

The issue was not on the meeting’s agenda, which included 18 judicial nominations. The committee advanced one judicial pick but held the others so new Democratic members of the committee, Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, could get a chance to submit written questions to the nominees before voting on them.

Cornyn specifically mentioned the release by Feinstein of a transcript of committee investigators’ interview in August with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. The firm hired a subcontractor who authored a dossier of opposition research on Trump

Feinstein drew the ire of Grassley this week after she released the transcript without his approval. He said such a unilateral release was “confounding” and undermines the integrity of the Judiciary Committee’s work.

President Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter, dubbing the Democrat “Sneaky Dianne Feinstein.”

“The fact that Sneaky Dianne Feinstein, who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace. Must have tough Primary!,” Trump wrote. 

Feinstein later told reporters she was sorry about how the transcript was released.

Grassley, after Thursday’s meeting, declined to comment on whether Feinstein had apologized to him but insisted that the panel’s investigation on Russia and the election is on track and that he and Feinstein continue to work together.

A committee spokesman says senators on the committee and their staff have the ability to review transcripts and other investigative materials.

Watch: What’s Congress’ Role in the Russia Investigation? One Senator Explains

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