House Intel Committee releases closed-door testimonies from Russia election interference probe

The House Intelligence Committee released long-promised closed-door testimonies, including those of members of President Trump’s family and inner circle, from its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“The testimony that the committee is releasing today serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that Russian interference poses to our democratic process and, specifically, to the 2020 election,” committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to the Director of National Intelligence (DNA).

The 2020 election year is roiled in turmoil as social distancing to curb the Covid-19 pandemic leaves lawmakers and election officials scrambling to find ways for the electorate to safely and securely vote – and fend off disruption by nation-states and cybercriminals.

The committee made 57 testimonies public just hours after the Justice Department moved to drop its case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about conversations he had with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding sanctions imposed on Russia for its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The House promised a year ago to release the documents, which includes testimonies of Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, former acting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Obama era officials Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes, but Schiff said the release was held up pending White House review.

In his letter to acting DNI Richard Grenell, Schiff blamed the “excessive delay in the ODNI’s completion of the classification review” on “improper political interference by the White House.”

On publishing the transcripts, Schiff said the testimonies “richly detail evidence of the Trump campaign’s efforts to invite, make use of, and cover up Russia’s help in the 2016 presidential election. Special Counsel Robert Mueller identified in his report similar, and even more extensive, evidence of improper links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government.”

Schiff noted that “a bipartisan Senate investigation also found that Russia sought to help the candidacy of Donald Trump in 2016.”

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has published four of five installments of a report on the findings of its investigation into Russia’s hack of the DNC and sprawling disinformation campaign meant to disrupt and influence the 2016 election.

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