Rep. Schiff stonewalling release of witness testimonies
UPDATED 9:45 AM PT — Saturday, April 25, 2020
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) appears to be blocking the release of witness transcripts related to the Russia probe. Reports emerged earlier this week, suggesting the House Intel Committee chairman has repeatedly denied requests to release the documents, despite a unanimous 2018 vote by the panel to make that information public.
Schiff has allegedly objected to the White House’s requests to review several of the documents for classified information before release, but has also refused to release those that have already been declassified.
Commenting on the delay, GOP Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) implied the real reason for Schiff’s refusal was an unwillingness to expose mischaracterizations of evidence carried out by Democrats during the probe.
“Well, I think it’s pretty easy,” said Nunes. “The Democrats don’t want these transcripts out because they are not good for them.”
He has called on Schiff to release the transcripts of some 50 witness interviewed during the investigation into allegations that President Trump had colluded with the Russian government to win the presidency.
When Nunes was chairman, the Intel Committee voted for the release of the transcripts more than 18 months ago. During that time, they have languished in the Office of National Intelligence for a classification review, with subsequent instructions from Schiff that the transcripts were not to be released under any circumstances. Schiff did not notify any Republicans on the committee when the review was complete.
“As a matter of fact, they would have already leaked them if they were good for them. There is roughly 60 transcripts or so. They should all be made public and they are not being made public, largely (because) there’s a lot of Obama administration folks who are in there. They need to be released. It definitely would create, let’s say, a starting point, at which you would have a very well known official who then later said different things. That would be helpful to get out.” – Devin Nunes, U.S. Representative
The transcripts are from interviews with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, in addition to Trump campaign and administration associates Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Hope Hicks. These, along with others’ important testimonies, would provide crucial transparency into the Russian collusion investigation.
“I think the real use of them being out in the public is for full transparency: Let all the people who are following this case really closely compare what they said behind closed doors to what they had said previously, what they have said since then,” stated Nunes. “That would be of some value for the American people.”
Nunes has also called for the release of interview transcripts of former Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who continues to be the subject of an investigation by GOP members of the Intelligence Committee.
“The American people pay for us to be here,” added Nunes. “There’s no reason for that information to be classified and be hiding behind the dungeon of the Capitol.”