Democrats to Grassley: Release Russia-related transcripts

Members of judiciary committee decry his move as distraction

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) presides over a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) presides over a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are pushing Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to release transcripts of an interview with a founder of the firm that commissioned the controversial dossier about President Donald Trump and Russia.

They also complained that focusing attention on the firm or the former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the dossier, is a distraction.

Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, last week called for the Justice Department to launch a criminal inquiry into Steele.

“The American people deserve the facts. There is simply no reason to keep the Simpson testimony (or other testimony before our committee for that matter) hidden while this distraction goes on,” Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, wrote in the letter, which was dated Sunday.

The two senators want the transcript of the committee’s interview with Glenn Simpson, a founder of Fusion GPS, released. Last week, Fusion GPS also demanded that Grassley release it.

The Iowa Republican, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, responded by saying he didn’t want to compromise the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He also said that Fusion GPS had not been cooperative and the company had previously requested confidentiality. He also offered to have Simpson testify publicly.

Fusion GPS said Grassley’s office was not giving an accurate version of events.

In their letter, Whitehouse and Blumenthal echoed complaints by Fusion GPS that Simpson’s testimony has been selectively leaked, and they rejected the idea the company’s work was the basis for the start of the investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election.

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A spokesman for Grassley, George Hartmann, said it’s standard practice not to release transcripts, a view held by investigators and consistent with how other congressional committees are handling the matter.

“It’s remarkable that two former prosecutors would parrot the talking points of an uncooperative witness during the committee’s ongoing investigation,” he said.

He also reiterated Grassley’s offer that Simpson return to the committee and testify publicly.

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