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 TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE’s associates and campaign officials, including Stephen Bannon, Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksHouse Judiciary chairman subpoenas former White House lawyer McGahn Trump claims Mueller didn't speak to those 'closest' to him End of Mueller shifts focus to existing probes MORE, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerHasan Minhaj calls out Kushner at event over ties to Saudi crown prince Kushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report Dems charge ahead on immigration MORE, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr. slams 2020 Dems as 'more concerned' about rights of murderers than legal gun owners It is wrong to say 'no collusion' Nadler: I don't understand why Mueller didn't charge Donald Trump Jr., others in Trump Tower meeting MORE, and Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneThe Hill's Morning Report - Is impeachment back on the table? End of Mueller shifts focus to existing probes Heavily redacted Mueller report leaves major questions unanswered 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 ClapperHow I learned to love the witch hunt 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era Ten post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators MORE and former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesTrump appears alongside Ocasio-Cortez on Time 100 list Sally Yates: Barr should release Mueller report as soon as possible A question of privilege: How Trump could still gut the Mueller report MORE, as well as Trump administration officials, including Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump poised to roll back transgender health protections Trump claims Mueller didn't speak to those 'closest' to him And the winner of the Robert Mueller Sweepstakes is — Vladimir Putin MORE and Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsJordan, Meadows press intelligence chief on House Intel Russia probe transcripts Overnight Energy: John Kerry hits Trump over climate change at hearing | Defends Ocasio-Cortez from GOP attacks | Dems grill EPA chief over auto emissions rollback plan Kerry goes after Trump over climate on Capitol Hill 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 NunesTrump hits Twitter: 'They don't treat me well as a Republican' Ten post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators Schiff, Nunes pressed DOJ for Mueller briefing 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 SchiffOn The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery On The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle Pelosi downplays impeachment post-Mueller report 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 RohrabacherMueller probe: A timeline from beginning to end Progressives come to Omar's defense Expanding Social Security: Popular from sea to shining sea 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 ConawayDems ramp up subpoena threats GOP zeroes in on Schiff Pelosi rushes to Schiff's defense 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 SchultzOvernight Energy: Trump moves to crack down on Iranian oil exports | Florida lawmakers offer bill to ban drilling off state's coast | Bloomberg donates .5M to Paris deal Florida lawmakers offer bill to ban drilling off state's coast Wasserman Schultz: 'We need a President, not a comic book villain' 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 MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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.