The release of the transcript turned into a political battle between the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee and Trump’s administration office from the Director of National Intelligence regarding the declassification of the transcript and whether the White House could review it.
But a committee spokesman told CNN on Wednesday that the panel was preparing to release transcripts of 53 closed door witness interviews conducted in 2017 and 2018.
The Committee voted unanimously in 2018 to release interview transcripts that had been conducted as part of a Republican-led Russian investigation, tainted by partisan battles about the way investigations were carried out, and then classify memos about FBI surveillance orders to former Trump campaign advisers, Carter Page.
The committee also spoke with top Obama administration officials such as former FBI Director James Comey, former national security adviser Susan Rice and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
But the transcript has not been released. Republicans claim Schiff delayed their publication, and Grenell wrote that 43 transcripts were completed in June 2019, according to the Examiner. But a committee spokesman alleged that ODNI held a declassification review for some of the remaining transcripts at the White House’s request.
In September 2019, the committee chose to release 43 completed transcripts. At the closed meeting, Schiff told the committee that in March 2019 ODNI said it intended to share some transcripts with the White House because they “involve the White House’s equity.” The committee told ODNI not to share with the White House and the agency did not do it.
Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the panel, found several rare agreements with Schiff, saying the transcript was delayed because “ODNI dragged his feet.”
But the release never took place after the vote, because the panel’s attention quickly turned to Ukraine and the impeachment investigation.
Now it seems that all 53 transcripts will be released in one batch.
“The committee received a letter yesterday from ODNI stating that ‘to this day, inter-agency review of the remaining ten transcripts has been completed,’ and gave a new editor. After more than one year of unnecessary delays, ODNI finally concluded the protracted “The review of the Committee’s transcript classification, and it also seems that the White House has now ignored the inappropriate pressure to review key transcripts, which were rejected by the Committee appropriately,” said a committee spokesman.
The committee said it would now review editors before the transcript would be released, taking a swipe at Grenell for an “overt political role” in the process.
“We are now reviewing the proposed editorship of ODNI based on classification, law enforcement sensitivity or ODNI request items only for official use,” the spokesman said. “Given the political role currently played by DNI officials, including leaked letters, this committee and the public can have little confidence that decisions are made based on ability. This process has taken too long, especially since ODNI improperly restrained the review and classification of several transcripts at the request of the White House. ”
Republican reports from a Russian panel inquiry in 2018 concluded that Russia had intervened but found no evidence of collusion between Trump team members and Russian officials. Democrats, however, argue that the committee has failed to take steps such as calling witnesses for records or refusing to answer panel questions.