President Donald Trump has not been excluded from a federal investigation into Russia's meddling efforts during the 2016 election, despite months of the president and his White House administration denying he was included in the probe, a key member of the House Intelligence Committee confirmed on Thursday morning that.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member on the committee tasked with investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian government operatives, told CNN that he and his colleagues are "looking at a whole range of actors and what kind of relationships they had with the Russians."
"We're not excluding anybody," Schiff responded when Cuomo asked if the president was being investigated by the House Intelligence Committee. "We are determined—at least on our side of the aisle, we certainly are—to follow the facts where they lead. We hope the Republicans are as well."
Schiff intends to bring Papadopoulos before the House Intel Cmte, says Trump isn't excluded from being investigated. https://t.co/VL4j6a8DPI— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 2, 2017
The congressman was initially describing his committee's intention to question George Papadopoulos—a member of the Trump campaign’s foreign advisory panel—on his ties to Russian officials throughout the campaign. But he later indicated that the president is not out investigators' sights.
Trump has routinely said he was not under investigation by any group, including the one led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "I’m not under investigation, as you know," the president said in a phone call Wednesday night with New York Times, noting the recent indictments of his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates, Manafort’s business partner.
"Even if you look at that, there’s not even a mention of Trump in there," he continued. "It has nothing to do with us."
The White House has also categorically denied Trump's involvement in Russia's alleged meddling in last year’s election. Officials also downplayed the role of Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about a meeting he had with a Kremlin-linked Russian academic who offered to provide "dirt" on Hillary Clinton last year.
Papadopoulos "was a member of a volunteer advisory council that met one time over the course of a year and he was part of a list that was read out in the Washington Post," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday after it was reported he pleaded guilty for false statements. "He was not paid by the campaign. He was a volunteer on a council that met once."
Papadopoulos appeared to have more interactions with the Trump campaign apart from the single meeting Sanders noted.
But what the House Intelligence Committee or Mueller know about the president’s involvement—if any—remained a mystery on Thursday.
"Mueller has a very different responsibility, and there’s a specific connotation to being a suspect in a criminal investigation," Schiff said Thursday. "I’ll have to leave it to Mr. Mueller to answer those kinds of questions."
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