House Russia probe gets more funding and staff

The House panel investigating Russia’s election meddling is getting more funding and two new senior staffers for the minority as part of a larger staff shakeup.

The House Intelligence Committee’s minority staff is adding Maher Bitar as general counsel and Shannon Green as senior counsel for investigations, the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said in a statement Tuesday.

The majority staff is also getting a funding boost, according to a source. A spokeswoman for Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, who’s leading the Russia probe for the Republicans, did not immediately respond to questions about whether Conaway would also be using the new funding to hire additional majority staffers.

The intelligence panel had requested a funding boost for its Russia probe, which is now entering a new phase as it begins scheduling witness interviews. The House Russia investigation, which has been beset by partisan spats, is also examining the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

The minority staff’s new hires follow the departure of the panel’s Democratic staff director, Michael Bahar, at the end of last month. Timothy Bergreen, formerly the deputy staff director, is being promoted to succeed Bahar, who is now leading the cybersecurity and data-protection practice at the law firm Eversheds Sutherland.

In an interview, Bahar said his departure from the committee was long planned. “It was absolutely tempting to stay. It’s historic. It’s up there with Watergate, Iran-Contra,” Bahar said. “I was caught between two phenomenal opportunities.”

Schiff announced several other staffing changes on Tuesday. Budget Director Carly Blake will become deputy staff director. Professional staff member Rheanne Wirkkala will become policy director. And Deputy General Counsel Wells Bennett will become senior counsel for legislation and oversight.

“Today, we are bringing on board additional staffing resources to continue our investigation into the Russian active measures during the 2016 election, and ensure our vital oversight work over the Intelligence Community remains strong,” Schiff said.

Source: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/13/house-democrats-russia-investigation-funding-staff-239487

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