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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 TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE’s associates and campaign officials, including Stephen Bannon, Hope HicksHope HicksUPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause Trump selects Hicks, Bondi, Grenell and other allies for positions Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tests positive for coronavirus MORE, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBiden to speak with Saudi king 'soon' as pressure builds for Khashoggi report Biden to speak with Saudi king ahead of Khashoggi report: report Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE, Donald Trump Jr.Don TrumpTrump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged Donald Trump Jr. attacks Cheney at CPAC: 'Lincoln Project Liz' MORE, and Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneTrump White House associate tied to Proud Boys before riot via cell phone data The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Third approved vaccine distributed to Americans DOJ investigating whether Alex Jones, Roger Stone played role in Jan. 6 riots: WaPo 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 biggest example of media malfeasance in 2020 is... Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community The new marshmallow media in the Biden era MORE and former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesBiden directs DOJ to phase out use of private prisons The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from chaotic downtown DC Biden to name Merrick Garland for attorney general MORE, as well as Trump administration officials, including Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Manchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' MORE and Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHow President Biden can hit a home run Former Trump intel chief Coats introduces Biden nominee Haines at hearing Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security 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 NunesRepublican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC What good are the intelligence committees? CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be 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 SchiffHouse Democrats want to silence opposing views, not 'fake news' White House defends not sanctioning Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi What good are the intelligence committees? 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 RohrabacherOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 California was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success GOP's Steel wins California House race after Democrat Rouda concedes 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 ConawayEx-Rep. Mike Conaway, former aide launch lobbying firm Thompson named top Republican on Agriculture Bottom line 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 SchultzDeSantis threatens to divert vaccines from communities criticizing distribution Lobbying world Democrats urge Biden FDA to drop in-person rule for abortion pill 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) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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.