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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 John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE’s associates and campaign officials, including Stephen Bannon, Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksWomen set to take key roles in Biden administration President says Trump Jr. doing 'very well' after COVID-19 diagnosis Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for COVID-19 MORE, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Pompeo becomes first top US diplomat to visit Israeli settlement, labels boycotts anti-Semitic NYT's Bruni suggests Ivanka Trump, Kushner move to North Korea or Saudi Arabia MORE, Donald Trump Jr.Don John TrumpMost Republicans in new poll say they'd vote for Trump in 2024 President says Trump Jr. doing 'very well' after COVID-19 diagnosis Trump has not prepared a concession speech: report MORE, and Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneFlynn spurs questions of who Trump might pardon next OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn 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 new marshmallow media in the Biden era Will China get the foreign policy president it wants? Is America ready to return to the Obama-Biden foreign policy? MORE and former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Women set to take key roles in Biden administration MORE, as well as Trump administration officials, including Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms MORE and Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsBiden soars as leader of the free world Lobbying world President Trump: To know him is to 'No' him 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 NunesOvernight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition Sunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight 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 SchiffOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn Trump pardons Michael Flynn 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 RohrabacherGOP's Steel wins California House race after Democrat Rouda concedes Democrat Harley Rouda advances in California House primary Lawyers to seek asylum for Assange in France: report 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 ConawayBottom line House Republican introduces amendment to include farm aid in stopgap funding bill Live coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing 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 SchultzOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations 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) 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.