House Panel Votes to Send Russia Transcripts to Mueller

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, exits a secure area to speak to reporters on March 22, 2018, as the GOP majority prepares to end its participation in the Russia probe, officially shutting down the panel’s investigation, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (CN) – The House Intelligence Committee voted Wednesday to send transcripts from the panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Representative Adam Schiff, who chairs the committee, confirmed the vote in a tweet Wednesday morning shortly after the committee held a closed-door meeting in the Capitol. The California Democrat has said in the past that lawmakers believe other people who appeared as part of the investigation lied to the committee.

Schiff has made sending the transcripts to Mueller a priority since taking over the gavel, and the vote is the panel’s first act since Democrats took the majority.

The transcripts will go to both Mueller and to the Department of Justice, Schiff said. According to the Associated Press, more than 50 transcripts will make the trip from Capitol Hill to the agency and Mueller’s office.

Republicans still controlled Congress when the committee voted to end its probe last March. Since that time, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in connection with the probe, and former Trump adviser Roger Stone has been indicted on similar charges.

Cohen admitted as part of November guilty plea that he lied to House and Senate panels about Trump’s business dealings in Russia. Stone pleaded not guilty last month to lying to Congress about his interactions with WikiLeaks during the campaign.

The House was scheduled to reinterview Cohen on Friday before the lawyer starts what will be a three-year prison sentence. Schiff announced Wednesday, however, that the interview had been postponed to Feb. 28 “in the interests of the investigation.”

Though Cohen has insisted that he lied out of loyalty to Trump, the president himself criticized “ridiculous partisan investigations” in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.

Ahead of Stone’s indictment in January, the panel supplied Mueller with a copy of Stone’s interview transcript from last year. When the committee was controlled by Republicans, Democrats made little headway in their push to have all transcripts sent to Mueller.

The committee did vote to release most of the transcripts to the public, but the intelligence community is still reviewing the materials for classified information.

Whether Mueller has requested or seen any other transcripts beyond Stone’s is unclear. The intelligence agencies are another avenue through which Mueller could have gained access to the documents.

Just before Wednesday’s meeting, Republicans on the panel issued a joint statement that called the ongoing review by intelligence agencies “an unacceptable delay.” They urged Democrats to vote on publishing all of the unclassified transcripts immediately.

Among the transcripts that would be released would be interviews with Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his longtime spokeswoman, Hope Hicks; and his former bodyguard Keith Schiller. There are dozens of other transcripts of interviews with former Obama administration officials and Trump associates.

%d bloggers like this: