But Ryan Goodman, an expert in national-security law, told me he saw “red flags” in the way the investigation was being carried out, including the chairman’s “failure to hire outside staff with professional expertise and experience in complex investigations, and the failure to use the subpoena power to easily obtain financial records from entities like Deutsche Bank.”
“A successful congressional inquiry like this can stand or fall on the size and investigative skills of its staff,” Goodman added.
Another contention in the Senate’s inquiry is the extent to which Steele, the retired MI6 officer who in 2016 authored a collection of memos known as the Trump-Russia dossier, has cooperated with the committee. The body had prepared a subpoena for Steele’s testimony in March 2018, but withdrew it after he provided his written testimony in August. Investigators who have traveled to London since then have not approached Steele for an interview, according to Steele’s lawyer, who declined to be identified due to sensitivities surrounding the probe. Burr suggested in an interview with CBS last week that Steele remained out of reach. “We’ve made multiple attempts,” to elicit a response, Burr said.
Steele’s lawyer said that was “flatly not true,” and that the committee had actually agreed in writing not to seek further information from Steele after he submitted his written testimony. The panel has not reached out to request another interview, the lawyer said.
The Republican committee aide did not dispute that the panel had received Steele’s statements. But the aide said the committee had “made clear to Mr. Steele and his attorney that there is no substitute for a face-to-face interview when it comes to answering some of the committee’s most pressing questions.” A spokesperson for Warner confirmed that the committee “would like to speak with Mr. Steele.” The committee did not respond to Steele’s lawyer’s comments.
The dossier, which alleges serious misconduct and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin in 2016, was presented to Trump by the nation’s top intelligence officials in January 2017. Trump dismissed it as “phony,” but many of the document’s core allegations appear to align with events during the campaign and are slowly being corroborated.
It’s getting harder for the Senate committee’s Republicans and Democrats to remain in step as they near the point where they’ll have to draw conclusions from their findings. One Democratic Senate Intelligence Committee aide put it simply: “There is a common set of facts, and a disagreement on what those facts mean. We are closer to the end than to the beginning, but we are not wrapping up.”
* This article originally mischaracterized the jobs of the 24 House Intelligence staffers.