by WorldTribune Staff, May 7, 2020
Transcripts of all 53 witnesses who testified before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the Russia investigation have been cleared for public release, Directer of National Intelligence Richard Grenell said.
Grenell is now calling on committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff to honor his pledge to release the transcripts.
Schiff hasn’t met that pledge. He has declined to release transcripts of testimony in the committee’s 2017-18 investigation into Russia election interference and any Trump campaign involvement.
“I urge you to honor your previous public statements, and your committee’s unanimous vote on this matter, to release all 53 cleared transcripts to Members of Congress and the American public as soon as possible,” Grenell said in the letter, the contents of which were first reported by the Washington Examiner.
Grenell added: “I am also willing to release the transcripts directly from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as to ensure we comply with the unanimous and bipartisan vote to release the transcripts.”
After Democrats won the House in the 2018 midterms, the newly empowered Schiff issued a statement on Feb. 6, 2019, promising to release all transcripts: “The Committee also plans to release to the public all investigation transcripts, as it is committed to providing the American public with greater transparency.”
Of the transcripts, 43 had been declassified and ready for release in June 2019. Ten more which are believed to be Obama associates testimony have recently been approved for release, Grenell said.
The 53 witnesses testified when Republicans, under the chairmanship of Rep. Devin Nunes of California, ran the committee. Their report in 2018 cleared President Donald Trump and his campaign of any election conspiracy with the Kremlin.
“Schiff himself voted to release these transcripts and claims he wants them out,” Nunes told Fox News on May 7. “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.”
“Schiff is in panic mode,” a senior administration official told Fox News.
Intelligence officials told Fox News on May 6 that Schiff has had his subcommittee staff director reaching out to heads of intelligence community agencies asking how Grenell was involved and what role Grenell — a known Trump ally — may have played in the declassification and redaction process.
Fox News is told, however, that the redactions were completed before Grenell took over as acting director this past February.
The process, according to an intelligence community official, took place under both former intel directors Dan Coates and Joseph Maguire, and was conducted by career intelligence officials. The official also told Fox News that the relevant heads of appropriate agencies were consulted on the declassifications and redactions of all 53 transcripts.
Special counsel Robert Mueller came to the same conclusion as the Nunes-led committee. No Trump associate was charged in election wrongdoing.
Republicans have privately told The Washington Times that Schiff is holding on to the transcripts because the testimony in total shows there was no Trump election conspiracy. Schiff on several occasions claimed there was “direct evidence” of Trump-Russia collusion.
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.
Among those whose testimony is included in the transcripts are Donald Trump Jr., Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, Michael Cohen and Andrew McCabe.
McCabe’s testimony would add to the body of evidence in the ongoing court case of Michael Flynn. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but has since renounced the plea. His lawyer, Sidney Powell, is asking a judge to dismiss the case.
Republicans in 2018 did release part of McCabe’s testimony. He said that that when agents returned from interviewing Flynn on Jan. 24, 2017 at the White House they didn’t think he lied. The still-unreleased portions may have more Flynn details.
Also, a number of key Obama aides gave testimony: Former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power; former national security adviser Susan Rice; former chief of staff John Podesta; and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
Republicans were particular interested in the Obama administration’s request to the intelligence community to “umask” the names of Trump allies who appeared in highly classified intelligence reports. Power’s office is known to have played a role.
Also testifying was FBI agent Mike Gaeta. Based in Rome, Gaeta is the first agent to make contact with Christopher Steele in 2016 and hear the ex-British spy’s allegations against candidate Trump. Steele would include all his claims in a dossier that would be disproven and discredited by government investigations.
Schiff was major backer of Steele and the dossier.