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Feinstein responds to Trump tweet, denies she did anything ‘illegal’ in releasing transcript

US Senate
US Senate

(WASHINGTON) — President Trump lashed out at Sen. Dianne Feinstein Wednesday for releasing a transcript from the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan, closed-door interview of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, calling her unilateral move “possibly illegal.”

Slapping the senior California Democrat with a new nickname, “Sneaky Dianne Feinstein,” Trump tweeted that the senator “who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace.”

Feinstein – who has never said there was no collusion – denied that she had done anything illegal in releasing the transcript, but did express regret that she did not tell her Republican counterpart, Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley — beforehand. The two are close and normally work well together, according to numerous members on both sides of the aisle.

“I was looking for Grassley. I meant to tell him, but I didn’t have a chance to tell him. And that concerns me,” Feinstein said. “But that transcript has been so abused that the time has come for people to just take a look at it. I think people can make up their own minds.”

Grassley, an Iowa Republican, for his part, was lower-key about the perceived transgression by his Democratic counterpart.

“Obviously I was a little disappointed, because I had an understanding ahead of time that it would be released when we both agreed to release it,” Grassley said of the transcript publication, but he added, “I think we’re going to move forward without any glitch.”

But he steadfastly refused to comment on the portion of the President’s tough tweet that said “Republicans should finally take control!” – with the senator rejecting a reporter’s attempt to show him the tweet.

“I don’t want to get into what the President said…I don’t intend to have a discussion with the president,” Grassley said emphatically.

“I hope he doesn’t call me to tell me things you said he said,” Grassley added with a grin, knowing that any such presidential interference in an investigation would be highly unusual.

And despite a rift developing in recent months between investigators for Grassley and Feinstein, with each making separate requests for interviews and documents, staff on each side worked hard Wednesday to emphasize that the panel’s bipartisan Russia investigation was not dead.

Sen Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a former long-time chairman of the Judiciary panel, called Feinstein’s unusual move “improper” but said unequivocally that what the senator did was not illegal.

“She’s a wonderful senator. I don’t have any desire to censure her,” Hatch said, adding that there are “certain approaches you abide by” that pay homage to the longstanding comity that has existed between the chairman and ranking member of the panel.

Democratic committee member Kamala Harris stood by her fellow Californian, adding, “I say, ‘Good for her’ for making the decision – to have the courage to say, ‘Listen, the American public wants to know.’ There are no rules preventing it from happening. The witness asked that it would happen…Good for her.”

Committee Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who last week joined Grassley in referring the author of the infamous Trump dossier to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution, tweeted, “It’s not enough to simply release the transcript from the co-founder of #FusionGPS Glenn Simpson. I want the entire story regarding Fusion GPS, the Dossier, and the Department of Justice to be revealed.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, called the Trump tweet “absolute rubbish, reprehensible and irresponsible. The release of this transcript was fully within the authority of the ranking member.”

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