WASHINGTON – The House Intelligence Committee has released long-awaited transcripts with dozens of witnesses as part of its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign solicited help from the Kremlin.
The committee has already released a full report on its probe but had not made public transcripts of interviews with witnesses. The thousands of pages of transcripts chronicle interviews with 57 witnesses over a little more than a year starting in the summer of 2017, including members of the president’s family and campaign. They also include former administration officials under the presidency of Barack Obama.
Among the interviews in the release are the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., former Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Trump ally Roger Stone and his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
The release of the documents caps off months of fighting between House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and the Trump administration over whether the White House could review the transcripts before they could be released publicly. The Director of National Intelligence’s office had been examining the transcripts for classified information. They were released after Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell notified Congress this week that its review was complete. The White House did not end up reviewing the transcripts, Schiff said.
Schiff said the documents back up allegations Trump’s team sought the help of Russia in the 2016 election.
“The transcripts that we are releasing today show precisely what Special Counsel Robert Mueller also revealed: That the Trump campaign, and Donald Trump himself, invited illicit Russian help, made full use of that help, and then lied and obstructed the investigations in order to cover up this misconduct,” Schiff said in a statement Thursday.
In his final 448-page report, former special counsel Robert Mueller, who led the Russia investigation, chronicled wide-ranging efforts by the Russian government to intercede in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf but said investigators did not find sufficient evidence to establish a conspiracy with Trump’s campaign. Mueller made no decision on whether to press charges of obstruction of justice, despite detailing 10 episodes in which investigators said the president tried to thwart their work.
Congressional committees, including members of both parties in House Intelligence Committee, have concluded Russia interfered in the 2016 election but Republicans have long argued that the Trump campaign did not work with the Russians to do so.
The president has long called the investigations into Russian interference and his campaign a “witch hunt” and denied working with the country to help his election victory.
“Unfortunately, the President’s misconduct did not end with his election in 2016 or his attempts to cover up that effort. Rather, in the course of his presidency, he continued to seek illicit foreign help in his campaign by coercing another nation, Ukraine, to smear his opponent,” Schiff said.
Trump was impeached by the House in December over allegations he pressured Ukraine to open investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. Trump was later acquitted in the Senate.
Republicans had blamed Schiff for the delay in releasing the transcripts. Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview Wednesday on Fox News that the transcripts will show “no Russian collusion” and called the back-and-forth between Schiff and the administration a “publicity stunt.”