Richard Grenell, the Director of National Intelligence, plans to release 53 declassified transcripts of witnesses that testified before Congress regarding the FBI’s Russia probe into President Donald Trump and his campaign. The transcripts have been blocked for nearly a year by Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (D-CA).
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) reacted to Grenell’s move to put Schiff in check for withholding Russia probe transcripts in a pair of tweets Wednesday, asking “Why delay?”
Despite a bipartisan vote in September 2018 by the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff has refused to release the transcripts to the public.
In a letter to Schiff dated May 4, Richard Grenell wrote: “All of the transcripts, with our required redactions, can be released to the public without any concerns of disclosing classified material. In the interests of transparency and accountability, 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 all Members of Congress and the American public as soon as possible.”
“I am also willing to release the transcripts directly from the ODNI, as to ensure we comply with unanimous and bipartisan vote to release the transcripts,” he emphasized.
Grenell stated in his letter that “the ODNI-supervised interagency review of 43 (of the original 53) transcripts was completed in June 2019. As of today, the interagency review of the remaining ten transcripts has been completed, as well. Additionally, in your letter of 26 March 2019, you also requested the ODNI, “under no circumstances…share HPSCI transcripts with the White House, President Trump, or any persons associated with the White House or President.” Pursuant to your guidance, these transcripts have not been shared with the White House,” as reported by Sara A. Carter. Continued Below
The 53 transcripts eligible for release include interviews with Donald Trump Jr., Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, Corey Lewandowski, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Brad Parscale, Michael Caputo and Rick Dearborn.
Also expected to be released, 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; and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Additionally: former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; former Obama adviser Benjamin Rhodes; and former Obama counselor and Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta, Perkins Coie lawyers Michael Sussman, and a former DOJ lawyer who passed along alleged details about Russian interference to former FBI general counsel James Baker. Continued Below
Senator Chuck Grassley reacted to Grennel’s move to put Schiff in check in a pair of tweets on Wednesday:
“Cong Schiff is withholding transcripts from [the] American [people] relating to Russia probe. Acting Intelligence Chief Grenell said they are ready [to be] released for public viewing. WHY DELAY? Transparency brings accountability! What a breath of fresh air Grenell is bringing [about] declassifying,” Sen. Grassley tweeted.
“The more we learn about [the] Russia probe, the more it seems we were right [to be] concerned all along. House Intel transcripts need [to be] released so we can all know what House Democrats have kept secret,” he added.
On Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) along with nearly two dozen House Republicans, called on Schiff to stop blocking the release of the interview transcripts, as well as any other documents obtained during the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe.
“We understand now that Chairman Schiff is blocking the release of these transcripts,” the lawmakers wrote. “This news, if accurate, is disturbing—especially in light of Chairman Schiff’s cries in 2019 for transparency regarding allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.” Continued Below
Senator Chuck Grassley’s Official Tweets:
Cong Schiff is withholding transcripts from American ppl relating to Russia probe Acting Intelligence Chief Grenell said they are ready 2b released for public viewing WHY DELAY? Transparency brings acctability! What a breath of fresh air Grenell is bringing abt declassifying
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) May 6, 2020
The more we learn about Russia probe the more it seems we were right 2b concerned all along House Intel transcripts need 2b released so we can all know what House Democrats have kept secret
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) May 6, 2020
Schiff had sent a letter in mid-April ordering that the witness transcripts not be shared with President Trump, nor the White House lawyers. He made this clear, even if the declassification process required sharing, as reported by Sara A. Carter. Video Below
“Under no circumstances shall ODNI, or any other element of the Intelligence Community (IC), share any HPSCI transcripts with the White House, President Trump or any persons associated with the White House or the President,” Schiff wrote in a March 26, 2019 letter to then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
“Such transcripts remain the sole property of HPSCI, and were transmitted to ODNI for the limited purpose of enabling a classification review by IC elements and the Department of Justice,” Schiff added.