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 Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE’s associates and campaign officials, including Stephen Bannon, Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksHope Hicks defends accuracy of her congressional testimony Nadler subpoenas Lewandowski, former White House official for testimony House panel to go to court to enforce McGahn subpoena, Nadler says MORE, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerPresident tweets 'few work harder' than Ivanka, Jared PETA billboard in Baltimore calls Kushner a 'rich pest' Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign MORE, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpPETA billboard in Baltimore calls Kushner a 'rich pest' Dick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report House chairman warns foreign governments to 'cease and desist' spending money at Trump properties MORE, and Roger StoneRoger Jason Stone3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Judge rejects Stone's request to dismiss charges Judge dismisses DNC lawsuit against Trump campaign, Russia over election interference 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 ClapperEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Former DHS, intelligence leaders launch group to protect presidential campaigns from foreign interference Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief MORE and former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesSally Yates: Moral fiber of US being 'shredded by unapologetic racism' Trump: 'Impossible for me to know' extent of Flynn investigation Mueller didn't want Comey memos released out of fear Trump, others would change stories MORE, as well as Trump administration officials, including Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda Lewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE and Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray Coats10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall 11 Essential reads you missed this week Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move 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 Nunes10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Juan Williams: Trump, his allies and the betrayal of America Trump expected to nominate Texas GOP lawmaker to replace Dan Coats: report 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 SchiffTrump: Jews who vote Democrat show 'lack of knowledge or great disloyalty' Are Democrats turning Trump-like? Schiff offers bill to make domestic terrorism a federal crime 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 RohrabacherThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz Former GOP Rep. Rohrabacher joins board of cannabis company 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 ConawayTexas faces turbulent political moment Democratic Party official: Texas is 'biggest battleground state in the country' Another Texas congressman planning to retire 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 SchultzParkland father: Twitter did not suspend users who harassed me using name of daughter's killer Hillicon Valley: Senate Intel releases election security report | GOP blocks votes on election security bills | Gabbard sues Google over alleged censorship | Barr meets state AGs on tech antitrust concerns House committee leader questions Trump on efforts to secure elections 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 MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony 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.