House Intel Panel to Release Transcripts of Now-Defunct Russia Probe

WASHINGTON (CN) – Nearly all of the interview transcripts connected to the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of meddling by Russia in the 2016 election will be released after lawmakers voted unanimously on Friday to disclose them.

Those transcripts that will be made public, comprise 53 separate witness interviews which took place during the committee’s Russia investigation which ended in March.

Interviews from Trump administration insiders and officials such as former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski make up just a portion of the transcript release.

Transcripts for committee interviews with Donald Trump Jr., Hope Hicks and Roger Stone will also be released.

The contents of each interview will be reviewed and declassified by members of the intelligence community first and according to a spokesman for Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., all of those interviewed will be given a chance to verify the documents for accuracy.

Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have been at odds for months, with democrats angling for the release of the documents after Republicans published a redacted and highly criticized final report suggesting the intelligence community found “no evidence the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated or conspired with the Russian government.”

During a closed committee vote Friday morning, Democrats and Republicans battled over the extent of the release, with Democrats pushing for a full disclosure of all related documents.

Republicans, who hold a majority on the committee, were unwilling to acquiesce entirely, barring the release of just five transcripts related to closed-session interviews conducted with former CIA director John Brennan, former FBI director James Comey and one-time National Security director Admiral Mike Rogers.

An interview with onetime director of National Intelligence, James Clapper Jr., however, will be included following necessary review and possible redaction.

The committee on Friday also voted against the release of  transcripts belonging to Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., who was head of the Democratic National Committee when that committee’s emails were hacked and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.

Rohrabacher met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya six weeks before she met with Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Since most interviewees did not hold high level security clearances – and contents are expected to contain little, if any classified information – the transcripts will likely be published as early as next week.

On Friday, ranking member Schiff also said he anticipated yet another, different round of transcript releases would soon be published.

Those contain a record of interviews committee democrats conducted separate of Republicans and features testimony from whistleblower Chris Wylie of Cambridge Analytica and Simona Mangiante Papadopoulous, whose husband George Papadopolous, plead guilty last year for lying to the FBI about his contacts while serving as foreign policy advisor to the president.

Committee democrats also requested Friday that all transcripts immediately be sent to the Special Counsel’s office but Republicans rejected the measure.

According to Rep. Schiff, the push for the special counsel’s review was due to “suspicions” some committee members had about whether those who testified before them “committed perjury.”

“The special counsel is in the best position to determine, on the basis of the additional information he has, who might have perjured themselves,” he said.

Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the committee’s Republican chairman, did not immediately respond to request for comment Friday.

 

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