House Intel votes to release Russia transcripts

House Intel votes to release Russia transcripts
© Greg Nash

The House Intelligence Committee on Friday voted to release dozens of transcripts from its now-shuttered investigation into Russia's election interference, likely teeing up a massive document dump ahead of the November midterm elections.

The transcripts include testimony from several of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE’s associates and campaign officials, including Stephen Bannon, Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksTrump aide asked Cabinet agencies to identify anti-Trump appointees: report Trump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — California monitoring 8,400 people for coronavirus | Pence taps career official to coordinate response | Dems insist on guardrails for funding Trump upends controversial surveillance fight Top Trump advisers discuss GOP need to act on health care at retreat with senators MORE, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr., Meadows wear matching Trump jackets on 'Fox & Friends' Group auctioning off hunting trip with Donald Trump Jr. Trump allies to barnstorm Iowa for caucuses MORE, and Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneDOJ puts its integrity in doubt by interfering with immigration courts The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pence taps health official to aid coronavirus response The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump on US coronavirus risks: 'We're very, very ready for this' MORE

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They also include transcripts of interviews with officials from the Obama administration, such as former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump on US coronavirus risks: 'We're very, very ready for this' Trump's nomination of an unqualified DNI undermines bipartisan intelligence reform Free Roger Stone MORE and former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesSurveillance fight emerges as intelligence flashpoint Graham requests interviews with DOJ, FBI officials as part of probe into Russia investigation Sally Yates blasts Trump for using DOJ as 'personal grudge squad' MORE, as well as Trump administration officials, including Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ puts its integrity in doubt by interfering with immigration courts Trump shakes up Justice Department, intelligence community Do people think ill of Jeff Sessions merely based on the sound of his voice? MORE and Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsCongress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Grenell asks top intel official to remain in role amid lawmaker concerns John Ratcliffe back under consideration by Trump for top intel job MORE.

While lawmakers from both parties voted in favor of releasing the documents, Democrats are accusing the Republican leaders of selectively withholding some documents from the public and slow-rolling others' release.

The transcripts — 53 in total, covering thousands of pages — will not immediately be released but will now go to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for a classification review, which could take days or weeks to complete.

Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesEthics complaint filed against Nunes asks how he's paying for lawsuits The Hill's Morning Report - Can Sanders be stopped? Trump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick MORE (R-Calif.) signaled earlier this month that he was in favor of releasing the transcripts, after Democrats on the committee had clamored for months for their release.

“They need to be published, I think, before the election,” Nunes told Fox News earlier in September. “Published, I mean being put out for the American people to review, so that they can see the work that we did and they can see all of the people that were interviewed by us and their answers to those questions.”

The documents are poised to revive discussion about the House panel’s Russia investigation, which dramatically broke down into partisan infighting and culminated in Republicans moving to end the probe in a party-line vote last March. Democrats have accused the GOP leaders of ending the probe prematurely.

Republicans released a report on their findings in April concluding that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow, though they faulted the Trump and Clinton campaigns for “poor judgment and ill-considered actions.”

The bipartisan vote occurred during a closed-door meeting Friday morning. Democrats ultimately voted in favor of releasing the documents, after unsuccessfully making several motions to release other transcripts and to release those that do not contain classified information immediately.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley — Presented by Facebook — Federal court rules tech giants can censor content | Trump upends surveillance fight | Senate passes bill barring federal funds for Huawei equipment House Intelligence lawyer Goldman leaving committee Schiff presses top intel official to declassify part of report on Khashoggi killing MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters that Republicans voted down a motion to release six additional transcripts not included in the batch of 53, which detail testimony of agency heads and Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherLawyers to seek asylum for Assange in France: report Rohrabacher tells Yahoo he discussed pardon with Assange for proof Russia didn't hack DNC email The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats duke it out during Nevada debate MORE (R-Calif.).

“We didn’t oppose a partial release, but we think nonetheless that it is a disservice to the public,” Schiff said. “Clearly, they are concerned with the public seeing certain transcripts.”

Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayLive coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing Laughter erupts at hearing after Democrat fires back: Trump 'has 5 Pinocchios on a daily basis' Live coverage: Schiff closes with speech highlighting claims of Trump's corruption MORE (R-Texas), who took over the committee’s investigation when Nunes recused himself pending an ethics probe, later told reporters that the transcripts of interviews with Rohrabacher and Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzHarris, Castro introduce resolution condemning Trump aide Stephen Miller Iowa debacle deepens division between Sanders, national party US officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  MORE (D-Fla.) had been withheld as a courtesy because they are members of Congress. He said the other transcripts were from closed hearings with agency heads.

Democrats also unsuccessfully moved to immediately release the transcripts to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE, Schiff said, pointing to concerns that some witnesses may have testified falsely and perjured themselves.  

“It’s amusing to see the Democrats continuing to promote their never-ending chain of absurd conspiracy theories," a Republican committee spokesperson said. 

The documents will now go to the intelligence community for a classification review, after which the committee is expected to release the full batch publicly, though the timing remains unclear. 

Conaway said the committee was sending all the documents to the Office of Director of National Intelligence “out of an abundance of caution.”

“We would like to make sure that we’re not responsible for releasing classified information,” he said. “While some of those folks don’t have classifications, classified material was discussed.”

—Updated at 12:46 p.m.