MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is in disarray with Democrats calling on the committee chairman to step down.
The latest incident came Tuesday after the chairman cancelled a hearing that was supposed to include testimony from the former acting Attorney General Sally Yates who President Trump fired.
The White House insists it did not try to stop Yates from testifying to Congress about National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
“We encourage them to go ahead, but to suggest in any way, shape or form, that we stood in the way of that is 100% false,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
CBS News obtained a letter from the Justice Department to the attorney representing Yates. It warns that there is a limit to what she could reveal in her testimony and that “she needs to consult with the White House.”
The same day she received the letter, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Devin Nunes canceled Yates’ scheduled testimony.
“The timing certainly raised a lot of questions about whether the White House preference had a lot to do with changing where this investigation was headed,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
Chairman Nunes, who worked on the Trump transition team, went to the White House last week to view reports he claims shows intelligence agencies collected incidental information on Trump transition personnel.
“Never should’ve gone to meet with the president whose campaign is under investigation. And he still keeps telling us that we’re going to see this information but nobody has seen it,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
Senate Democrats on the intelligence committee also question where Chairman Nunes got the reports.
“He can’t take intelligence over there so he must have gotten it there, or else he violated a major rule or procedure,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold its first hearing into Russian interference Thursday.
The latest CBS News poll, released Wednesday morning, shows 59 percent of Americans surveyed believe it is likely Trump associates had improper communication with the Russian government.