Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell is calling on Rep. Adam B. Schiff to honor his pledge upon taking control of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to release transcripts of investigations.
Mr. Schiff hasn’t met that pledge. He has declined so far to release any of 53 transcripts of testimony in the committee’s 2017-18 investigation into Russia election interference and any Trump campaign involvement.
Mr. Grenell, in a letter sent to Mr. Schiff this week, said the transcripts have been cleared for release, most months ago, and that if the chairman did not release them the intelligence director would.
“All of the transcripts, with our required redactions, can be released to the public without any concerns of disclosing classified material,” Mr. Grenell said in a letter first reported by the Washington Examiner.
The 53 witnesses testified when Republicans, under the chairmanship of Rep. Devin Nunes of California, ran the committee. Their report in 2018 cleared President Trump and his campaign of any election conspiracy with the Kremlin.
A year later, special counsel Robert Mueller came to the same conclusion. No Trump associate was charged in election wrongdoing.
After Democrats won the House, 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.”
The list of those who testified behind closed doors include Donald Trump Jr., an active defender of his president father, and Andrew McCabe, the former deputy FBI director.
Mr. McCabe’s words back then would add to the body of evidence in the ongoing court case of Michael Flynn, the retired Army lieutenant general and former Trump national security adviser. 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 Mr. 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.
Republicans have privately told The Washington Times Mr. Schiff is holding on to the transcripts because the testimony in total shows there was not the Trump election conspiracy that the Democrat said existed.
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.
Ms. Power’s office is known to have played a role.
Hillary Clinton campaign aides also testified.
Also testifying was FBI agent Mike Gaeta. Based in Rome, he is the first agent to make contact with Christopher Steele in 2016 and hear the ex-British spy’s stunning allegations against candidate Trump. Mr. Steele would include all his claims in a dossier that would be disproven and discredited by government investigations.
Mr. Schiff was a big proponent of the dosser and of Mr. Steele.
Mr. Steele’s dossier was funded by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. Mrs. Clinton’s agents carried dossier material to the Justice Department and FBI, who cited the information to a judge to win spying warrants on Trump volunteer Carter Page.
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, Mr. Grenell said.
The committee’s Republicans and Democrats in 2018 voted to release all transcripts
“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,” Mr. Grenell said.