The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday demanded Chairman Adam Schiff release the transcripts of interviews conducted by the panel during its Russia probe in 2017 and 2018, now that they have been cleared by the intelligence community.
“Schiff himself voted to release these transcripts and claims he wants them out,” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News Thursday. “There’s no reason he can’t publish them all today—except that he really doesn’t want the American people to see how little evidence there ever was for the Russian collusion hoax he advocated and continues to advocate.”
Earlier this week, House Republicans sought over 6,000 pages of transcripts pertaining to interviews conducted by the committee in 2017 and 2018, after the panel in September 2018 voted on a bipartisan basis to approve their public release.
Then, acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell notified Schiff, D-Calif., that the redaction and declassification process was complete, and that the records were ready for release, putting the ball in Schiff’s court.
Grenell wrote Schiff that he was “willing” to release the transcripts directly from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence [ODNI] “as to ensure we comply with the unanimous and bipartisan vote to release the transcripts.” It’s unclear, at this point, if and when Grenell could release the transcripts.
A House Intelligence Committee spokesman told Fox News on Wednesday that the panel received Grenell’s letter on Tuesday.
“After more than a year of unnecessary delay, the ODNI has finally concluded its protracted classification review of the committee’s transcripts, and it also appears the White House has now abandoned its improper insistence on reviewing key transcripts, which the committee appropriately rejected,” the spokesman said.
“We are now reviewing the proposed redactions from ODNI based on classification, law enforcement sensitivity or items ODNI requests be for official use only,” the spokesman continued. “Given the overtly political role now played by the acting DNI, including the leak of his letter, this committee and the public can have little confidence that his determinations are made on the merits.”
The spokesman added: “This process had already taken far too long, most notably because the ODNI improperly held up the declassification review and release of several transcripts at the request of the White House.”
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The spokesman also said that the committee’s review of ODNI’s “newly proposed redactions” would be “as expeditious as possible given the constraints of the pandemic.” He continued, “We look forward to releasing these transcripts, which relate to misconduct by the Trump campaign and the president himself.”
The 53 transcripts eligible for release, according to a source familiar with the transcripts, included interviews with Trump Jr., Bannon, Kushner, Hicks, Lewandowski, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Brad Parscale, Michael Caputo and Rick Dearborn.
Also expected to be released, according to the source: transcripts for interviews with Obama officials such as former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; former Attorney General Loretta Lynch; former Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; former National Security Adviser Susan Rice; former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; former Obama adviser Benjamin Rhodes; and former Obama counselor and Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta.
Another source familiar with the transcripts told Fox News that the people interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee during its Russia probe were asked whether they had evidence that Trump, himself, or the Trump campaign conspired, colluded or coordinated with Russia during the 2016 election.
Two sources familiar with the transcripts told Fox News that not one of the 53 witnesses could provide evidence of collusion.
“The transcripts show a total lack of evidence, despite Schiff personally going out saying he had more than circumstantial evidence that there was collusion,” one source involved in House Russia investigations told Fox News.
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, similarly, at the conclusion of his nearly two-year-long investigation, said he and his team found no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, but did not reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice, which current Attorney General Bill Barr ultimately decided not to pursue.
While law enforcement officials have long maintained that there was clear intelligence Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, to date, there have been no charges concerning actual conspiracy against people associated with the Trump campaign, which was at the core of the Russia investigation.
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