What exactly is Adam Schiff keeping so secret?
The California congressman and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is facing increasing calls to release transcripts of interviews the committee conducted as part of its probe into “Russian collusion,” but the latest twist might be taking the matter out of his hands.
In a letter to Schiff publicized Wednesday by the Washington Examiner, acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell informed the representative that the transcripts are ready for release – and tacitly threatened to release them on his own.
The 53 transcripts involve the questionings of some of the biggest names in the Trump administration who were dragged into the Democrats’ obsession with blaming Russia for Donald Trump’s historic upset of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
On the Trump side, they include Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, Hope Hicks, the Trump campaign aide who has returned to the White House, and Roger Stone, the Trump ally and veteran Republican activist. Stone is currently free on bail while appealing a three-year sentence conviction for lying to Congress and witness tampering in connection with the “collusion” investigation, according to the Washington Examiner.
The Trump opponents’ side includes former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired for lying to FBI agents, and former Obama White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
While the contents of the transcripts are still sealed, it’s an excellent chance that information from insiders like that will shed much-needed light on the investigation Democrats used to try to trip up the Trump administration during its first years.
For most Americans, the “Russia collusion” theory died a whimpering death with the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in April 2019 that found no collusion or obstruction of justice on the president’s part.
It was buried by a bewildered Mueller’s disastrous appearance on Capitol Hill in July, which only brought up questions about who was actually running the attempt to get rid of Trump.
In September of 2018, nine months before the Mueller report was published, the House Intelligence Committee voted to make the interviews public after they had been screened by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for classified information. (The committee was under Republican control at the time, but the vote was unanimous.)
The security screening has long since completed, yet Schiff still refuses to let normal Americans know what his committee learned.
In the letter reported Wednesday by the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, Grenell wrote that it’s time for that to change.
“I urge you to honor your previous public statements, and your committee’s unanimous vote on this matter, to release all 53 cleared transcripts to Members of Congress and the American public as soon as possible,” Grenell wrote, according to York.
Then he lowered the boom.
“I am also willing to release the transcripts directly from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as to ensure we comply with the unanimous and bipartisan vote to release the transcripts,” he wrote.
It’s important to note the wording. Grenell writes only that he is “willing” to release the transcripts, not that he will release the transcripts.
As commentator Ed Morrissey wrote at HotAir, it’s not clear that Grenell has that authority – his office was only vetting the material for classified information.
But there’s no question that he put Schiff on notice that the material belongs in the public eye — and the clock is ticking.
It’s another, very loud voice added to the chorus that’s been clamoring for the interviews to be released in recent days.