Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Wednesday that Sen. Dianne Feinstein's decision to unilaterally release Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s summer 2017 testimony could make it harder for the committee to get testimony from other witnesses as it continues to investigate Russia.
“It may make a lot of people a little more reserved whether or not they want to cooperate, including in regard to Jared Kushner […] very high profile person as an example. But we’ll continue to move forward,” Grassley said. He added that Kushner, the senior adviser to President Trump, is “not at all” off the hook for appearing before Senate Judiciary.
“These transcripts would have been released eventually anyway,” Grassley added. “Obviously I was a little disappointed because I had an understanding ahead of time that it’d be released when we both agreed to release it.”
Grassley also predicted his committee's Russia investigation would operate "without any glitch" going forward. He said he has shown “cooperation with the other side,” and that he agreed yesterday to two interviews wanted by Democrats on Senate Judiciary as part of their probe, and said he sees smooth sailing ahead.
“So I think we’re going to move forward without any glitch in the way we operate,” he said.
When asked his response to President Trump’s latest tweet suggesting the GOP “take control” of the Russia investigation, Grassley said he was unsure what the president meant.
“I don’t know what the president has in mind, and I don’t think I better comment until I have a discussion with the president on that point,” Grassley said. “And I don’t intend with the president on that point.”
Grassley did not elaborate on two people he has agreed to bring in to interview for Democrats, but Feinstein has sent letters in recent weeks requesting testimony, including from Trump campaign officials Dan Scavino and Brad Parscale.
Feinstein published the transcript from Simpson's August interview with Senate Judiciary on Tuesday afternoon after growing frustrated with "the innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript," she said in a statement accompanying its release.
Feinstein told reporters Wednesday afternoon she wants to find Grassley and " apologize" for releasing the transcript without telling him first.
"But we were written to by the lawyers of the company asking, 'will it be released?' And the reason of course is it's has been used [for] rumor and innuendo and falsity so much that the time came for people to see exactly what was said," she explained.
Feinstein added: "I think in these hearings more should be released than held back because when you hold something back it gives all of the people that have an ax to grind an opportunity to grind that ax to a fine edge and they do. But if the facts are out that isn’t a problem."
Simpson and Democrats on Senate Judiciary had urged Grassley to make the testimony public, but Grassley refused and said Fusion GPS should instead testify publicly.
Fusion GPS is a private research firm that was behind the so-called Trump dossier. The dossier was a compilation of intelligence reports put together by former British intelligence office Christopher Steele that contains salacious, mostly unverified allegations tying President Trump to Russia.
Last week, Grassley recommended that the Department of Justice criminally investigate the author, and said Steel he knowingly lied to federal authorities about his communications with U.S. journalists.
Following the release, a Grassley press secretary blasted Feinstein’s decision as “confounding.
“Feinstein’s unilateral decision was made as the committee is still trying to secure testimony from other witnesses, including Jared Kushner,” Taylor Foy said. “Her action undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses.”z as part of their probe, and said he sees smooth sailing ahead.
Laura Barrón-López contributed to this report.