House Republicans are refusing to name members to the House Intelligence Committee and, in the process, are effectively stalling special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal.
After pointing out that the arrest of former Trump adviser Roger Stone last week had been possible because the House Intelligence Committee provided a transcript of Stone's testimony to the special counsel's office, MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow explained on Friday that the committee could also provide transcripts for testimony from other current and former Trump officials. If it was revealed to Mueller that they had lied under oath, he could file criminal charges against those individuals and perhaps acquire more information about the president in the process.
The catch, though, is that House Republicans have been slow to assign members to the committee.
"Here's something to watch: All right, we've already got two people indicted for felonies for lying to House Intelligence, [Michael] Cohen and Stone," Maddow told her viewers. "Mueller had to obtain both of their transcripts from the House Intelligence Committee before he could file those charges. Is House Intelligence sending Mueller anybody else's transcripts? The thing to watch here is that, it turns out they actually can't. They can't until they have the intelligence committee up and running... and they can not do that until they have a full list of members for the intelligence committee. And so far Republicans are not naming any members for the Intelligence Committee."
Maddow mentioned that House Republicans had already named members for 23 other committees, including less important committees like the Joint Committee on the Library, which makes it even more suspicious that a committee as significant as the Intelligence Committee has not been fully staffed yet. She also pointed out that the committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., would be able to send Mueller's team the transcripts for all of the Trump-associated witnesses who appeared before them within 48 hours of when the committee became operational. Because Schiff has already said that sending these materials to Mueller would be his first order of business, it is likely that fully staffing the committee would greatly accelerate the Mueller probe.
Earlier in the program, Maddow also disclosed that a source close to Mueller's investigation had told her team that the special counsel's office had viewed "a number" of testimony transcripts from the Senate investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal. This further reinforced Maddow's conclusion that important information may be available in the House transcripts.
Stone's arrest on Friday marked a crucial turning point for the Trump-Russia investigation, given Stone's long and close relationship with the president. The political consultant was indicted on seven felony charges including lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee, obstructing justice and tampering with a witness. One paragraph of the indictment tellingly described how "after the July 22 release of stolen DNC emails by Organization 1 [WikiLeaks], a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton campaign. STONE thereafter told the Trump campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by Organization 1."