House Panel Votes to Release Trump Jr., Kushner Interview Transcripts

(Bloomberg) -- The House Intelligence Committee voted Friday to release 53 transcripts of closed-door interviews it conducted, including with Donald Trump Jr., White House adviser Jared Kushner and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in its probe into Russian election interference.

But Democrats, led by Representative Adam Schiff of California, protested that Republicans who control the panel wouldn’t vote to set a specific timeline for the release, once the transcripts go through a declassification process with intelligence agencies and are scrubbed for personal information.

“They’re trying to bury them as long as they can” while making a pre-election show of transparency, Schiff said. Democrats also wanted some of the transcripts sent to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, asserting that some of the witnesses appeared to give false testimony. Schiff said Republicans rejected that too.

The move to release the material was approved by voice vote. Dismissing Schiff’s complaint, Jack Langer, a spokesman for Republicans led by Representative Devin Nunes of California, the panel’s chairman, said “it’s amusing to see the Democrats continuing to promote their never-ending chain of absurd conspiracy theories.”

Republican Representative Michael Conaway of Texas, who led the panel’s Russia investigation, said no date was set because “we’re not responsible for releasing classified information -- that’s for the executive branch to decide.” Mueller can ask for the information if he wants it, he said. “He’s a big boy.”

Bitterly Divided

In addition to interviews with Sessions, Trump Jr. and Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, the transcripts to be released include interviews of long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone, current Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, and former aides Stephen Bannon, Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks.

Democrats pressed unsuccessfully for the release of other transcripts, including of a number of agency heads; California Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher, who may be the most pro-Russia lawmaker in Congress; and Florida Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who headed the Democratic National Committee when it was hacked in 2016.

The House panel has long been bitterly divided along partisan lines. Democrats protested when the Republican majority ended the active investigation by saying they found no evidence anyone close to Trump colluded in Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign, and echoing the president’s frequent assertion that anti-Trump forces in the Justice Department and FBI were engaged in a “witch hunt” against him.

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