House committee to vote on release of Trump Russia transcripts

FILE PHOTO: People walk by the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2018. REUTERS/ Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives committee will vote on Friday on whether to release dozens of transcripts of interviews from its investigation of Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, including conversations with senior associates of President Donald Trump.

The House Intelligence Committee is expected to agree to send transcripts of the 53 interviews to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for review before they are made public, congressional aides said on Thursday.

That would pave the way for the public to see thousands of pages of conversations with people including the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and son-in-law and close adviser Jared Kushner, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

Interviews with officials from former President Barack Obama’s administration, including former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power are also among the transcripts.

The transcripts are likely to provide the first public look at how some key witnesses described events such as a June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower in New York at which a group of Russians offered to provide damaging information about Trump’s Democratic rival at the election, Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr. and Kushner were among attendees at the meeting with Nataliya Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with Kremlin ties.

Trump’s fellow Republicans, who hold majorities in Congress and control the committee, announced in March that the panel’s investigation was over and they had found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow’s efforts to influence U.S. politics.

Trump has repeatedly denied collusion with Russia. Moscow denies meddling in the 2016 U.S. campaign, but U.S. intelligence agencies found that it did so in order to boost Trump.

Committee Democrats disagreed with the Republicans’ conclusion and vowed to continue the probe.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alistair Bell