House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Thursday that transcripts from the impeachment inquiry’s closed-door interviews could start being publicly released as early as next week.
Schiff made the revelation when he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Cuomo Prime Time” that accusations from Republicans that the minority party isn’t getting enough time to ask questions in the closed-door depositions are false.
“Those arguments you’ve heard are almost completely false, with only one exception,” Schiff said. “And when you see the transcripts, and we expect to begin releasing them as early as next week, you’ll see that the Republicans have every bit as much time to ask questions.”
The public release of the transcripts would mark a significant step for the public’s knowledge of what’s been said in the impeachment inquiry’s depositions thus far. All the interviews have been behind closed doors, and what is known about them has come from the release of witnesses’ opening statements to the media and leaks from those inside the room.
The House voted on Thursday to formalize procedures for the impeachment inquiry, including moving toward the public release of transcripts and public hearings. The inquiry is rooted in a whistleblower complaint that deals with a phone call President Donald Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. A transcript of the conversation released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pushed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
During the interview Schiff compared the House impeachment probe into Trump to Watergate, positing that “the main difference is the President now has Fox (News’) prime time” programming’s support.
“Now I will say this: The present circumstances are also very different than Watergate and I think for a very fundamental reason, and that is in Watergate it wasn’t that the existence of tapes made all the difference,” Schiff told Cuomo.
“You know it was certainly important, you know, in this impeachment proceeding, we have the existence of the call record, but I don’t think that’s really what differentiates then from now. I think the main difference is the President now has Fox prime time and that allows his supporters to live in this alternative fact world.”
He added: ” And, frankly, I think if Richard Nixon had had Fox prime time, he would have never been forced to leave office. And that is what we’re up against. You know, an information environment in which you can live in a world devoid of facts.”
Fox News’ prime-time shows have consistently offered the President friendly coverage of the probe. Trump has repeatedly highlighted the unprecedented connection between Fox News and the Oval Office throughout his presidency, often quoting Fox News anchors on Twitter or posting videos of their monologues defending him.
The President laid bare his view that the outlet works for him and his supporters earlier this year when he suggested that the network is not sufficiently loyal to him by tweeting that it “isn’t working for us anymore.”
When asked if he thought there was a legitimate chance that Trump could be removed from office, Schiff said his focus remains carrying out the investigation.
“I don’t want to prejudge even what we decide in the House. We’re going to finish our investigation and the public testimony and then as a deliberative body and in consultation with our constituents and our conscience and make a decision on whether the remedy of impeachment is warranted,” he said.
CNN’s Brian Stelter, Clare Foran, Jeremy Herb, Alex Rogers and Haley Byrd contributed to this report.