In 2018 the House Intelligence Committee “forged a rare bipartisan moment: Its Republican and Democratic members voted to make public the transcripts of 53 witnesses in the Russia collusion investigation,” John Solomon’s Just the News reminds us. However, that act of transparency has been aggressively thwarted by Adam Schiff.
Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) took over as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) from Republican Devin Nunes in 2019. It was then that Schiff deployed his disgraceful strategy. Schiff sent a letter to the office of then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, which Just the News has obtained.
In the letter, Schiff “ordered that the witness transcripts – some of which contained exculpatory evidence for President Trump’s team – not be shared with Trump or White House lawyers even if the declassification process required such sharing.” The letter, dated March 26, 2019 stated:
Under no circumstances shall ODNI, or any other element of the Intelligence Community (IC), share any HPSCI transcripts with the White House, President Trump or any persons associated with the White House or the President…Such transcripts remain the sole property of HPSCI, and were transmitted to ODNI for the limited purpose of enabling a classification review by IC elements and the Department of Justice.
U.S. intelligence officials explain the severe consequence of Schiff’s actions. Officials say the request made it “impossible for them to declassify 10 of the transcripts, mostly of current and former White House and National Security Council witnesses, because White House lawyers would have had to review them for what is known as ‘White House equities’ and presidential privileges.” Just the News states 43 transcripts have been made declassified and “cleared for public release and given to Schiff’s team, but they have never been made public despite the committee’s vote to do so.”
Republicans would like to see testimonies of some key figures such as former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Michael Sussman, a private lawyer for the Democratic Party, be made public. “Republicans had hoped the witnesses’ testimonies would be released before the 2018 election so Americans could see some of the problems with the Russia probe and the false narrative of collusion that had been foisted on the public.” Unfortunately that did not occur and the “declassification efforts dragged into 2019, when Democrats took control of the House.”
Just the News notes that spokesmen for Schiff and House Intelligence Committee Democrats did not return emails seeking comment. Additionally, Just the News writes that Schiff’s letter came “just as Special Counsel Robert Mueller was releasing his final report, which declared there wasn’t evidence to prove the core allegation lodged against Trump by Democrats – that Trump had colluded with Russia to hijack the 2016 election.”