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Adam Schiff fuels House intelligence committee ‘dysfunction’ with Trump-Russia fixation

When Rep. Adam B. Schiff convened the House intelligence committee’s first meeting this year, the California Democrat declared that his top priority would be restoring civility to a panel that spent the first two years of the Trump administration riven by deep divisions over the occupant of the White House.

It hasn’t gone so well.

By the committee’s second public hearing, Mr. Schiff had accused President Trump of crimes and Republicans demanded his resignation as chairman, saying he was too biased to lead a panel that long had been a bastion of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.

Six months into Mr. Schiff’s tenure as chairman, he is receiving mixed reviews for his work in trying to turn down the heat. Supporters say he has made significant strides in forging bipartisan consensus on cybersecurity and media manipulation, but his apparent quest to find a smoking gun to prove a Trump-Russia conspiracy offsets those efforts in the minds of critics.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller spent nearly two years investigating and found no evidence of a conspiracy between Mr. Trump or his campaign and Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and his hearing Wednesday could go a long way toward defining the committee’s reputation and character for years to come, analysts said.

Get the balance wrong, and the committee could lose standing among the very people it was created to oversee: the intelligence community.

“When oversight becomes overtly partisan and dishonest, the overseers lose credibility with the American people and also with the intelligence community,” said David Kris, founder of Culper Partners, a consulting firm and former member of the board of advisers for the CIA and the National Security Agency. “The resulting lack of trust provokes the question ‘Who watches the watchers?’ and also encourages intelligence agencies to be even more guarded and careful in responding to oversight requests.”

Stephen B. Slick, director of the Intelligence Studies Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said the problems could even spill over into foreign intelligence cooperation, with allies worried that information shared or gleaned from joint operations “will be exposed for political purposes.”

Members of the committee say the situation has gone downhill since the 2016 election and suspicions about Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, then under Republican control and chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes of California, opened an investigation into Russian meddling. But Mr. Nunes’ actions, including accusing the Obama administration of spying on Trump campaign figures and viewing secret documents he refused to share with the rest of the committee, quickly poisoned matters.

Mr. Nunes had to recuse himself from leading the probe for months pending an ethics investigation that eventually cleared him.

Divisions within the committee ran so deep that Mr. Nunes proposed building a physical wall between staff on each side.

Republicans eventually ended their investigation with a report in April 2018. Democrats condemned the effort as a partisan whitewash, and Mr. Schiff described it as “fundamentally unserious.”

Mr. Trump’s public denunciations of the intelligence community and his disagreement over its assessment of Russian meddling haven’t helped matters, analysts said.

Even Mr. Mueller’s report, which did not find evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy, has been unable to stitch the committee’s comity back together.

If anything, divisions have deepened. Mr. Schiff says the nearly two-year Mueller investigation has left him with more questions, and Republicans insist that everything has been settled and it is time to move on.

“We have strong differences on Russia and had [them] from the start of the investigations. We have been able to work together in a nonpartisan way on a whole range of other issues on the committee, so that’s the good news/bad news about the committee over the last couple of years,” Mr. Schiff told The Washington Times.

“It’s hard for me to see our differences on Russia narrowing during the pendency of the investigation. We just have such different perspectives on our role as investigators, and so in that one area it is going to be hard to reach consensus.”

Those who are familiar with Mr. Schiff’s seat say the committee needs to work harder to forge consensus to maintain its role as an important voice in intelligence matters.

“The House intelligence train came off the tracks a couple of years ago, and trying to get things straightened out is not going to be an easy process. That being said, [Mr. Schiff] has not done what needs to be done to restore civility,” said former Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican who served as vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“If Schiff really wants to restore the committee to the reputation it has had for decades, then he has to start at the top. He needs to put his arm around Nunes and say, ‘I’ll make a real effort.’ You don’t rehash something that has been a very contentious issue for two years, i.e. the Russia probe. You don’t undo what your predecessor has done,” Mr. Chambliss said. “That is pretty poor leadership.”

Former Rep. Dan Glickman, a Kansas Democrat who served on the committee from 1987 through 1995 and was chairman from 1993 until 1995, said there is a “general congressional dysfunction” that has infected the institution on a broader scale.

“You can’t put that on one committee or one chairman. I don’t think there is anything for Mr. Schiff to repair until Congress gets its act together and starts acting as a team,” he said.

He said the committee has improved under Mr. Schiff, but he and Mr. Chambliss said one additional step would be for Mr. Schiff and Mr. Nunes, now the ranking Republican, to start avoiding TV cameras.

Mr. Chambliss also suggested that Mr. Schiff could curtail his penchant for open hearings.

“The work within the committee is such that if you are doing your job, you have no business going on TV and talking about it because the things meaningfully done by the committee should not be talked about,” Mr. Chambliss said. “Both Nunes and Schiff are out there in public throwing rocks at each other and talking about things they really ought not be talking about.”

Mieke Eoyang, a former staff director for the intelligence committee and now vice president at Third Way, a left-leaning think tank, suggested that Mr. Schiff promote issues where a consensus is possible.

“They are looking at the budget and classified security issues, which are the bread-and-butter issues they need to focus on,” she said. “When you step away from the Russia investigation, there are common concerns and they work together. They are all drawing a distinction between the investigation and other things.”

Committee members can’t even agree on the level of disagreement.

Rep. Eric A. “Rick” Crawford, Arkansas Republican, said partisanship has damaged the committee.

“We are trying to address this,” he told The Times. “I was just talking to one of my counterparts on the committee, so we are working on this, but there is a whole lot of energy focused on Trump when we should be focusing on the threat matrix that exists around the world and what we are doing to oversee our intelligence community assets out there that are trying to keep our country safe.”

Others said things aren’t as bad as they might seem.

“I think the committee is one of the most bipartisan committees in Congress, next to Transportation and Armed Services,” said Rep. Andre Carson, Indiana Democrat. “Everyone takes their job very seriously. We all want to protect Americans even if our methodologies are different. We can agree that we need to protect Americans.”

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Top 5 Countdown: Offensive Line

To help you count down the days until football season arrives, the 5NEWS Sports crew has put together 11 different countdowns looking at players, coaches and games to be looking forward to this fall.

On Monday night, we took you through the top offensive lines that will go to battle in the trenches for local high school’s in 2019.

#5: Fayetteville Bulldogs

Coming in at number five, it’s the Purple Dogs. The high flying Fayetteville  offense asks for a lot from the big guys up front, and a deep group of ten upperclassmen is ready to provide time for the pass game or open up gaps for their stable of backs. Senior Melvin Kumwenda looks to lead the squad after picking up all-conference honors last year.

#4: Rogers Mounties

Up next, it’s another 7A West school,  the Rogers Mounties. The Mounties are looking to take the next step this season, and, as they say, it all starts up front. Another seasoned group, the Rogers front is led by RJ Long, an All-State tackle last season who boasts a 545 pound squat and multiple D1 offers. The Mounties will also be bolstered by the return of Aaron Salinas and Jack Gillbreath, who both missed time last year.

#3: Har-Ber Wildcats

It’s bounce back time in Springdale, and Har-Ber will look to bully opponents into submission with their power up front. Last season, Jake Streubing became the first ever freshman to pick up all-state first team honors at guard, and he already has offers from Memphis and SMU. Terrifying for the rest of the 7A, he’s still growing, and is joined by a stable of upperclassmen to do the dirty work for what looks to be one of the top run games in the state.

#2: Bentonville West Wolverines

The big men from the 7A continue to dominate our rankings, as Bentonville West slots in at number 2. After years of leaning on skill positions, the Wolverines think this is the year that focus switches to line play. Gone are the Jadon Jacksons and Will Jarretts of the world, but West returns five core members of the offensive line, including senior tackle Ben Gann, coming off all-state honors last year. It’s a new look for West, and it all starts up front.

#1: Booneville Bearcats

For our number one team on the list, the line has been their bread and butter for years. Expect more of the same from the Boonville Bearcats, fresh of a state championship. That famous option offense doesn’t work without an impressive front, and this year should be more of the same, as a group of versatile upperclassmen who can play multiple spots on the line return, bigger stronger, and hungry for a repeat.

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Police are investigating a possible homicide in Fort Smith.

Officer Aric Mitchell with FSPD says they received a call right before 6 p.m. about a man who showed up to a house on the 1400 block of North Greenwood Ave. bleeding and looking for help. He died after being transported to an area hospital. The man’s identity has not been released.

It is unclear at this time what happened. There are no suspects and no arrests have been made at this moment.

Stay with 5NEWS for updates on this developing story.

Fort Smith Man Killed After Hit-And-Run In Little Rock

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KFSM) — A man who just recently moved from Fort Smith to Little Rock was killed after being hit by a car while riding his bicycle.

The driver who hit him is still on the loose and there is no suspect or vehicle description to help find the person responsible.

John Mundell was hit on the bike lane around 8 p.m. Thursday (July 18) night but died early Monday (July 22) morning.

Our sister station out of Little Rock spoke exclusively with Johns wife who is still trying to piece together what happened.

“I just encourage whoever did this to come forward,” Mundell said. “I still have a lot of questions of how this could have happened, my husband died today.”

According to Sherwood Police, the accident happened on Hwy. 107 southbound around Millers Point Drive in Little Rock.

“How does it happen on a five-lane road in broad daylight and how are there no witnesses, no street cameras that had any evidence of what happened,” said John’s friend Russell Gibson.

According to Strava Graph Data, John was drug by the car for about half a mile with speeds reaching up to 40 miles per hour. John underwent multiple surgeries but ultimately died from his injuries.

“How does another human being cause such a tragic accident and then simply leave somebody on the side of the road,” Gibson said. “I’m a motorist you’re a motorist and the message is the only thing between you and cyclist or a runner or a motorcyclist is your own good judgment and patience.”

John and Kimberly recently got married and moved from Fort Smith to Little Rock in May.

Police are still looking for the person responsible but there are no leads at this time. There were no cameras in the area, another car saw Mundell on the road and called 911.

There will be a memorial service on Saturday (July 27) in Fort Smith. Fellow cyclist and John’s friends say a memorial ride will be set up in his memory within the coming days.

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family.

If you have any information about the accident, you’re asked to contact Sherwood Police.

New Road Project In Lowell Should Help With Traffic Flow

LOWELL, Ark. (KFSM) — A new project is underway in Lowell that will soon help ease the dreaded Northwest Arkansas commute for many.

Officials broke ground Monday (July 22) on a project called the Dixieland Road Expansion which will connect south Dixieland Road to West Apple Blossom Road.

“It will allow a lot of people to get where they need to go a lot faster,” said Raymond Burns, President and CEO for the Rogers/Lowell Chamber of Commerce.

The project will only add about seven-tenths of a mile to that stretch of road, but it’s said to ease some of the heavy traffic in the area, especially those who work at J.B. Hunt, Arvest or who live near Dixieland Road.

“Along with 71B, I-49, and the new Dick Trammel Highway, this is just gonna add to the convenience of folks being able to get to where they need to be,” Burns said. “With the trails and the sidewalks that are anticipated hopefully folks will be able to ride to work, walk to work and it will be a great place for family recreation as well.”

Burns says the project has been in the works for about five years and will also bring many more business opportunities to the area when it’s complete.

“We do know that there will be a number of businesses that will move into this area to take advantage of the sheer mass that comes to work every day here at J.B. Hunt,” Burns said.

Lowell Mayor Chris Moore agrees that it will benefit a lot of people in Northwest Arkansas.

“We got a100 acres next to Fortune 500 company that is available for development,” Moore said. “That’s something that we don’t have. It’s similar to what Bentonville and Walmart have, well our Walmart is J.B. hunt and we need to do everything we possibly can to take advantage of that.”

The project is said to take about 300 days and should be completed by early next year, weather permitting. The cost of the project is just under $5 million.

Construction Boom Causes Lane Closures In Uptown Rogers

ROGERS, Ark. (KFSM) — Big developments are in the works in uptown Rogers, but these will cause some growing pains over the next few months. Starting Monday (July 22) one lane on J.B. Hunt Drive will close for two and a half months, but it’s not a full closure.

“The developer right there along J.B. Hunt drive is working and they are putting in large structures that have a lot of prefabricated elements to it, so there are bringing it in on large trucks, so they are going to have intermittent closures for that lane,” Ben Cline said.

City of Rogers Public Relations Manager Ben Cline said these closures will only be during weekday business hours and not during any shows at the Walmart AMP.  The project that’s causing the closures is a new office and retail tower along with a parking structure.

“I think it’s probably the biggest area for commercial development in all of Arkansas. There are just so many projects, hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth go development in that area that’s concentrated,” Paul Gatling said.

Editor of the NWA Business Journal, Paul Gatling said there are a lot of things under construction including a new Arvest Bank building, several new restaurants and the much anticipated Top Golf.

“That is a major quality of life amenity that’s going to draw people kind of like the AMP draws people. It’s not just something for golfers, it’s kind of really a nightclub that just happens to feature golf. You’ll have meetings there; you’ll have sports watch parties,” he said.

There is no word when Top Golf will actually open, but we do know it’s scheduled to open sometime in 2020.

Clouds Clear, Cooling Continues!

Lingering pockets of rain will continue into the evening on Monday for locations south of I40 followed by a clearing trend area-wide later this evening.

Cooler weather will prevail for most of the week with highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s.

On Wednesday morning we could get close to record lows in NW Arkansas with clear skies and calm winds; some locations could bottom out 50s.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An official with Arkansas’ only surgical abortion clinic said Monday that the facility could close within a month if a federal judge doesn’t block a new law restricting who can perform abortions in the state.Federal Judge Hears Challenge To Arkansas Abortion Laws

Federal Judge Hears Challenge To Arkansas Abortion Laws

The clinic director of Little Rock Family Planning Services said during a hearing that the facility has only one physician who complies with the requirement that doctors performing abortions be board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology. That physician, Frederick Hopkins, lives in California and only works at the Little Rock clinic for three to four days every other month.

“We would not be able to maintain our current staffing, we would not be able to cover the overhead of operations,” Lori Williams said at the hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker.

Baker heard testimony in a request to block that law and two other abortion restrictions before they take effect Wednesday. The laws are being challenged by Little Rock Family Planning and Planned Parenthood, which only offers medication-induced abortions at its Arkansas facilities. Planned Parenthood earlier this month stopped providing medication-induced abortions at its Fayetteville facility while it looks for a new location, but is still providing the procedure at its Little Rock center.

Of two other laws being challenged, one would ban abortions 18 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy and the other prohibits doctors from performing the procedure if it’s solely being sought because the fetus was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The laws are among several abortion restrictions approved by Arkansas’ Republican-dominated Legislature this year.

Williams said Little Rock Family Planning had sent a letter to every obstetrician-gynecologist in the state to see if there were any who are board-certified or eligible who would willing to work at the clinic, but did not hear back from any. Williams said part of the problem is the stigma, especially across the South, of working for an abortion provider.

Arkansas faces the prospect of losing its only surgical provider while neighboring Missouri’s only abortion clinic is fighting to continue providing the service . If that facility closes, Missouri would be the first state without an abortion clinic since the year after the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized the procedure nationwide.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — A famous Texas taco shop has announced the opening date of its first-ever Arkansas location.

Opening Date Set For Arkansas’ First Torchy’s Tacos

Photo courtesy of Torchy’s Tacos

Torchy’s Tacos which originated in Austin, Texas announced plans earlier this year for the new restaurant in Fayetteville.

It will host a grand opening party on Monday, August 5, and will be giving away free tacos, green chile queso, beverages and much more. The event is open to the public and details are available here.

The taco shop is set to fully open on Wednesday, August 7, where customers can enter for a chance to win free tacos for a year.

Construction began in January on MLK between Andy’s Frozen Custard and Take Five Oil Change. Torchy’s is also set to open a Rogers location in late 2019.

The taco shop was ranked Business Insider’s best chain restaurant in December.

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Parrot Island Waterpark is hosting its fourth annual Military Appreciation Day this weekend.

Parrot Island Waterpark Hosts 4th Annual Military Appreciation Day

Photo courtesy of Parrot Island Water Park

The all-day celebration will be on Sunday (July 28) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m at the water park in Fort Smith.

The event honors and recognizes all member of the Armed Forces including both active duty and veterans.

All military personnel will receive free admission and a concessions voucher. Military members immediate families will get into the park for 50% off and other discounts throughout the day.

The day will open with an honors ceremony followed by the Military Parrot Games, where military members can compete for the Champion’s Parrot Cup. The day will end with an awards ceremony.

The event is open to the public and regular admission fees apply.