- The Washington Times
Thursday, September 27, 2018

The full slate of closed-door testimonies from the House Intelligence Committee’s now defunct Russia probe could soon be released.

The committee votes Friday on whether to refer the material, including interviews in the classified setting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, Roger Stone, Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon, to a federal review and redaction process for public release.

If released, the documents would also include closed-door testimonies from such Obama-era Justice Department officials as Loretta E. Lynch, Sally Yates, as well as former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican, announced earlier this month that the panel would vote to unseal a total of 53 transcripts from testimony collected primarily between June 2017 and March 2018.

The House probe of the Russian election meddling saga was one of Washington’s most explosive in recent memory and ended last spring. The probe sparked a series of events that led to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the launch of independent counsel Robert Mueller’s own Russia investigation, which has thus far indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies.

With Republican committee members expected to approve the motion, the transcripts will be sent for review by the office of current Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Redacted versions of would then likely be released on a rolling basis throughout October — timing that could see both sides of the aisle attempt to politicize the material ahead of the November midterm elections.

Earlier this month, Mr. Nunes joined Intelligence Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, in arguing that “the public should see” the documents before of the midterms.

Mr. Nunes more recently told Fox News the release would benefit President Trump, who has argued the whole Russian-meddling narrative was invented and pushed by the Obama administration and the Hillary Clinton campaign to smear him and his advisers in the heat of a tight 2016 presidential race.

“I think he [Mr. Trump] doesn’t have any choice,” Mr. Nunes said. “If the president wants the American people to really understand just how broad and invasive this investigation has been to many Americans and how unfair it has been.”

Committee Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat, have also clamored for the documents to see the light of day.

How Washington digests any new revelations during the sensitive weeks leading up to the midterms is an open question.

While a separate probe by the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that a U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia secretly tried to interfere in the 2016 election to boost Mr. Trump and hurt Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Nunes’ House panel disagreed, concluding Kremlin operatives only intended to spread discord across the U.S. electorate — not specifically help Mr. Trump.

Republicans pouring over interview transcripts of divisive Obama-era officials like Ms. Lynch, Ms. Yates and Mr. Clapper, will likely find fodder for their argument that an “American deep state” — consisting of establishment Washington figures and agencies — conspired to undermine Mr. Trump’s presidency with what he has called a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

Democrats, meanwhile, will be looking for new information or angles on the June 2016 Trump Tower gathering of top Trump campaign officials Mr. Kushner, Mr. Trump Jr. and former campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, who met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer offering political dirt on Ms. Clinton.

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