Rep. Adam Schiff warned Americans on Sunday to be wary of President Donald Trump’s attempts to dismiss the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee suggested that the White House likely tried to manipulate the congressional investigation by passing along documents to Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the committee.
Nunes then said those documents may indicate that President Barack Obama’s administration incidentally surveilled Trump’s team, a claim for which law enforcement officials have said there was no evidence.
After viewing the documents at the White House himself, Schiff asked how administration officials knew the documents he viewed were the same that were shown to Nunes.
“How does the White House know that these are the same materials that were shown to the chairman, if the White House wasn’t aware what the chairman was being shown?” he asked.
“If these were produced either for or by the White House, then why all the subterfuge? There’s nothing ordinary about the process that was used here at all.”
Schiff added that he was suspicious of the president’s attempts to undermine the credibility of the congressional investigations into Russia’s involvement in the election.
“It certainly is an attempt to distract and to hide the origin of the materials, to hide the White House hand,” Schiff said. “The question is of course why? And I think the answer to the question is this effort to point the congress in other directions. Basically say ‘Don’t look at me don’t look at Russia, There’s nothing to see here.'”
He added: “I would tell people whenever they see the president use the word ‘fake,’ that should set off alarm bells.”
Both congressional Democrats and some Republicans have criticized Nunes’ handling of the House investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential ties between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign.
After receiving documents from White House officials that the chairman said indicate Trump staffers may have been incidentally surveilled, Nunes took the bizarre step of returning to the White House the next day to brief administration officials without consulting the House Intelligence Committee.
Democrats have called for Nunes to recuse himself, saying he is too close to the administration to run a fair investigation.