House Intelligence Committee Republicans voted on Friday against releasing interview transcripts of one of their House GOP colleagues that Democrats consider significant for the panel’s now-shuttered Russia probe.
Two sources told The Daily Beast on Friday morning that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee wanted their GOP colleagues to disclose an account given to the panel by Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who is considered the Republican legislator closest to the Kremlin.
“The Republicans are trying to conceal from the voters their colleague Dana Rohrabacher’s Russia investigation testimony,” said a committee source familiar with the issue. “There were highly concerning contacts between Rohrabacher and Russians during the campaign that the public should hear about.”
As well, two sources said the Republicans denied release of an interview given to them by Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chaired the Democratic National Committee in 2016 when Russian military intelligence infiltrated the organization’s servers and exfiltrated for publication a large trove of internal communications.
“She has no objection to it being released,” said Wasserman Schultz spokesperson David Damron.
The Republicans also voted against releasing interviews from the Russia probe with several pivotal former intelligence officials. They include James Comey, the FBI director President Trump fired; John Brennan, the ex-CIA director whose security clearance Trump stripped; and Michael Rogers, who this year stepped down as the head of the National Security Agency. The three men presided over the January 2017 intelligence assessment that stated Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
On Friday morning, the panel, which is sharply divided along partisan lines, voted to release 53 interview transcripts from the Russia investigation. Those transcripts now go to the office of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats for a declassification review. Sources were unclear on the precise timing of the review but one anticipated that the transcripts could be released as soon as two days from now.
Representatives for Rohrabacher and the panel chairman, California Republican Devin Nunes, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat on the committee, said in a statement that he “directly asked Chairman Nunes whether the timing of this decision was directed by the White House or the President’s legal team.” Nunes, Quigley said, “refused to answer.”
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, called the withheld interviews a “further subterfuge” masquerading as transparency from Trump’s allies on the panel.
Schiff, in a statement, also said the Republicans on the panel refused to provide “all unredacted transcripts” immediately to Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as potential obstruction of justice, “so that he may determine which witnesses may have perjured themselves before our committee.”
Schiff added that the Republican majority again refused to subpoena documents and information Democrats have sought in the probe. They include records and testimony from Deutsche Bank concerning possible Russian money laundering, the phone records of Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, and Twitter DMs between WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, the Russian military-intelligence persona known as Guccifer2.0 and Trump campaign allies.
The vote Friday morning occurred as much of Washington was seized with the Senate Judiciary
Committee vote on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whom several women have accused of sexual assault.