House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced Tuesday he would make a criminal referral of businessman and former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, a close Trump ally, to the Justice Department for potentially lying to Congress.
“I do believe there is very strong evidence that he willingly misled the committee and made false statements to the committee and later today we’ll be making a criminal referral to the Justice Department,” Schiff said at a Washington Post Live event.
“The evidence is so weighty that the Justice Department needs to consider this,” he added.
Schiff said Prince testified to the House Intelligence Committee as part of its Russian collusion probe that he had met a Russian financier in the Seychelles during the Trump transition by chance, but that the Special Counsel’s recently released report showed that it was not a chance meeting.
Schiff did not rule out referrals for other Trump associates, but said, “We have reached the point of ripeness with Erik Prince’s testimony that we feel it appropriate to refer it.”
The California Democrats alleged for the past two years that there was “ample” evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not establish that any collusion, defined legally as conspiracy or coordination, occurred between the campaign and Russia.
However, Schiff has not stopped alleging that there was collusion, and has vowed to further investigate the president.
Republicans also plan to refer some witnesses for criminal referrals, including for lying to Congress. House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) has said he has eight criminal referrals to make to the Justice Department.
Attorney General William Barr has expressed openness to taking a look at Nunes’ referrals.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who also spoke at a Washington Post Live event following Schiff suggested that one of the referrals is related to Fusion GPS, the firm that produced the dossier against Trump with funding from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.