Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Thursday that he plans to release the transcript of the committee’s interview with Donald Trump Jr., as well as the transcripts of others involved in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.
Grassley’s announcement comes after Democrats on the committee called for Trump Jr.’s transcript to be released, including Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who suggested that transcripts from the committee’s interviews could “reveal other, and better-founded, concerns about witness false statements.”
In prepared remarks for the committee’s Thursday meeting, Grassley said that he has always pushed for “as much transparency as possible.” He said that he had been waiting for the committee to finish interviewing all witnesses about the Trump Tower meeting, during which several Trump campaign associates met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
The committee was only waiting to interview Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Grassley said. He then blamed Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the committee’s ranking member, for scaring away Kushner by releasing the transcript of the Fusion GPS co-founder.
“I had hoped to speak with all the witnesses surrounding the Trump Tower meeting before releasing any of those interview transcripts. But the Ranking Member unilaterally released the transcript of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. That has spooked other potential witnesses,” Grassley said in his prepared remarks. “As a result, it looks like our chances of getting a voluntary interview with Mr. Kushner have been shot.”
Bloomberg News reported that Kushner’s lawyers did not decline an interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee, but asked when lawmakers can disclose the contents of closed-door interviews and asked if Grassley had seen Kushner’s Senate Intelligence Committee interview.
Feinstein released the transcript of Simpson’s interview with the committee earlier in January after Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) referred Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who compiled the so-called Trump dossier, to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. Republicans in Congress have recently upped their attacks on the FBI and Justice Department and placed great emphasis on investigating how the FBI and DOJ handled the dossier. In her statement accompanying Simpson’s transcript, Feinstein said that she was concerned “a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice.”