After months in which Republicans have made highly selective releases from carefully chosen documents in an effort to make the investigations of the FBI and special counsel seem slanted, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff has a better idea: The House should release all transcripts of the interviews it conducted on the Russia investigation.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee issued a memo stating that they did not find evidence of collusion or obstruction—though members of the committee also admitted they didn’t actually look for either. Donald Trump has made frequent reference to that memo in attacking the Trump–Russia investigation, and often hinted that he saw the Republican memo as an excuse to end any further look into the issue.
But Schiff wrote to Intelligence Chairman Nunes, saying that he believed if all the transcripts were released, they would show evidence of both collusion and obstruction. According to NBC News, Schiff’s note also raised issues of witnesses who lied to the committee and who should be facing charges.
“Certainly the testimony of Don Jr., Erik Prince, Roger Stone and others is inconsistent with the public reports of meetings, conversations and other facts that have now been established,” Schiff said in an interview with NBC News. “And so if those public reports are accurate, then clearly they were not telling the truth.”
Though Republicans voted to end their investigation into Russian actions in the 2016 campaign in March, over the objection of Democrats and after failing to call dozens of critical witnesses, Nunes and others are still actively working. Not to uncover the truth about what happened in the Trump campaign, but to derail anyone else attempting to investigate.
Schiff’s demand that all the testimony be presented to the public would be a tremendous step in allowing people to compare what major figures in the case have said in public, and what they said behind closed doors in the House. But like all calls for real transparency, it has been met with the standard Republican response.
Schiff said Thursday he had not received a reply to his request. Nunes’ office declined to comment.
From the beginning of the Trump–Russia investigation, Republicans in the House have been trying to flip the investigation on its head by implying that the real crime was even looking at Donald Trump. House Republicans, and in particular Devin Nunes, have worked directly with the White House in an attempt to create scandals by:
- Making proclamations about “unmasking” of subjects under investigation associated with Trump’s campaign, even though everything uncovered showed that information on these subjects had not actually been revealed beyond careful limits, and that all involved followed meticulous standards for privacy.
- Issuing a memo on the use of documents from British intelligence officer Christopher Steele in obtaining a FISA warrant against Trump advisor Carter Page, though all evidence showed that the Steele information played a minor role and Page had been under close scrutiny, and the subject of multiple FISA warrants, for years.
- Insisting on outing an FBI intelligence source involved in talking with Trump campaign advisers, even though the agency warned that revealing this information would endanger both the agency’s source and methods.
Over the course of these mock scandals, Nunes and associates have gone from complaining that information on classified investigations wasn’t being held closely enough, to regularly demanding that it be released, even when both the DOJ and FBI insisted that to do so would damage, not just the current investigation, but the agency’s abilities going forward. Devin Nunes and Mark Meadows have gone so far as to threaten impeachment of Trump-appointed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Trump-appointed FBI Director Chris Wray unless they released more documents about FBI sources.
These Republican operations have been created by insistence on the release of only particular documents. And often by actually not releasing those documents, but only through Republican statements on what they claim to have seen in the documents. The selective releases, and even more selective wording, have picked out sentences and phrases from documents that seemed to imply wrongdoing on the part of intelligence agencies, while hiding the tenor or results of the investigation. And every one of them has evaporated into nonsense when more information is revealed.
For his continuous efforts in attempting to smash America’s intelligence agencies, Donald Trump has named Devin Nunes a “hero” and Trump-supporting billionaires have filled Nunes’s campaign chest with record, though possibly illegal, funds.