House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes has indicated the panel was planning to make public interview transcripts from its now-concluded Russia investigation, arguing their release before the November midterms was very important.
“We believe that the depositions that we took, I think nearly about 70 people, those need to be published,” Nunes said. “And they need to be published, I think, before the election.”
The documents include committee interviews with past and present White House officials, among which include senior adviser Jared Kushner, former senior adviser Steve Bannon and former communications director Hope Hicks, as well as the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.
However, before releasing the trove of documents, the committee’s chairman would have to let the panel members vote on whether to make them public. “I would support releasing as many of these documents and transcripts as possible,” GOP Representative Chris Stewart said. “However, there’s a process we have to go through first, and a release is not imminent.”
For now, it remains unclear when the documents would be made public. A spokesman for Nunes further declined to say whether all of the transcripts would be released together.
Back in March, the committee decided to wrap up the investigation, arguing that no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia had been found. The nine Democrats on the panel said the vote was premature and the decision based on an attempt to protect President Donald Trump from additional scrutiny.
They now say that Nunes must schedule a hearing and let them vote on the possible release. “If Chairman Nunes wants to release them now, he shouldn’t talk about it, he should just set a hearing and allow us to vote and do it,” said a senior Democrat on the committee. “Americans should see the transcripts of the limited Russia investigation we conducted. Republicans promised they’d do that and have since buried the evidence.”
Releasing the transcripts would allow the public to see what exactly the committee was told about high-profile events during the 2016 presidential campaign, including the infamous Trump Tower meeting.
Democrats say the House transcripts will let voters see that Republican lawmakers served up softball questions for witnesses. Republicans, on the other hand, also push for the release of other Russia probe-related documents, including text messages from former FBI Director James Comey and other top officials.