According to a new report by Washington Examiner’s Byron York, acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has sent a letter to House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) urging him to release long-held transcripts of “secret” interviews on the Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy theory — or else Grenell’s office will release them directly.
As explained by York, the then-Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee was the first official federal entity to conduct a probe into Russia’s attempt to interfere with the 2016 election. Part of the committee’s investigation involved interviewing a long list of key witnesses, among them Steve Bannon, Michael Cohen, Hope Hicks, Andrew McCabe, Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr., Sally Yates, and dozens more.
Transcripts of the 53 closed-door interviews have been held since September 2018, when the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee decided to release them to the public pending an Intelligence Community review of the transcripts to check for any classified information. The Democrats on the committee agreed with the move. Over a year and a half later, the transcripts have yet to be released.
So what is holding them up? According to a Wall Street Journal editorial published two weeks ago, the now-Democrat-controlled Intelligence Committee, namely Schiff, has blocked the release of 43 cleared transcripts and the declassification of the remaining ten transcripts. And now, York is reporting that Grenell is beginning to pressure Schiff to release the since-cleared transcripts.
“Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has sent a letter to chairman Adam Schiff notifying him that transcripts of all 53 interviews, over 6,000 pages in all, have been cleared for public release,” York reported Wednesday.
“All of the transcripts, with our required redactions, can be released to the public without any concerns of disclosing classified material,” reads Grenell’s May 4 letter to Schiff, according to York.
“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,” wrote Grenell. “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.”
York also notes that Grenell informs Schiff in the letter that he has not shared the transcripts with the White House in accordance with Schiff’s much-scrutinized request that the DNI “under no circumstances…share House Intelligence Committee transcripts with the White House, President Trump, or any persons associated with the White House or President.” (Read York’s full report here.)
Schiff and Grenell have been engaged in a back-and-forth in recent weeks, including a feud over Schiff demanding a halt to Grenell’s overhaul of the intelligence community, a demand the acting director rebuffed.
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