One of special counsel Robert Mueller’s staunchest defenders in Congress appears set to become the most powerful member of the House Intelligence Committee in the wake of the midterm elections.
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, emerged on the national stage as the politically polarized panel battled over its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Democrats were projected to take over the House in Tuesday’s midterm elections, likely elevating Schiff to the chairman spot in the intelligence panel, which had been headed by one of President Donald Trump’s biggest protectors, Rep. Devin Nunes.
Like Mueller’s ongoing investigation, the House Intelligence Committee’s probe included inquiring about the potential links “between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns.”
Through the investigation, which began days after Trump‘s inauguration in January 2017, Schiff also became a leading critic of his Republican counterpart: Nunes.
Schiff had called on Nunes to recuse himself from the House investigation in March 2017, following reports that the California Republican had received intelligence from a source at the White House the day before he briefed Trump on possible surveillance of his communications by U.S. intelligence.
And after the committee released its final report from the probe in April 2018 asserting “no evidence” of collusion between Trump and Russia, the Democratic minority led by Schiff vowed to continue investigating.
While stumping for a fellow California Democrat on Monday, Schiff said that reviving and expanding the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling would be his top priority, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He also told the Times he planned to look into whether Russia held leverage over Trump’s financial interests through the president’s business empire. “The president has sought to keep that off limits, but if that’s the leverage Russians pose that’s a real threat to our country,” Schiff told the newspaper.
Schiff has already been on the receiving end of Trump’s ire. In a July 2017 tweet, Trump accused the intelligence committee’s ranking Democrat of “pushing the Dem loss excuse” by continuing to talk about the Russia probe on television.
On Wednesday morning, Trump issued a challenge to the newly empowered House Democrats potentially looking to investigate “us.”
In a tweet, Trump vowed that “we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”