Story highlights

Sen. Chuck Grassley said his committee wants to talk to two FBI officials

Grassley is also mulling whether to subpoena an ex-Trump campaign chairman

CNN  — 

The Senate legal counsel is preparing subpoenas for two senior FBI officials the Justice Department is preventing the committee from interviewing, Senate judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley said Wednesday.

CNN first reported last week the Justice Department was preventing the individuals from appearing before the judiciary committee to answer questions about the firing of FBI Director James Comey, citing the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Grassley and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, have repeatedly asked the two senior FBI officials – Carl Ghattas and James Rybicki – to sit down for a transcribed interview to discuss the Comey firing as part of the committee’s probe into any improper interference with the FBI.

“We’ve got subpoenas at the Senate counsel office,” Grassley told CNN Wednesday, referring to the Senate office that would draft the subpoenas. “When we get done there, I’m gonna have to consult with Sen. Feinstein.”

Grassley did not say that he has decided yet to issue the subpoenas to Ghattas and Rybicki.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Grassley’s comments.

The Iowa Republican says he is also mulling whether to subpoena former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is also being investigated by Mueller.

Grassley said Wednesday that the committee has not had its calls return from Manafort’s attorney, but he’s unsure about issuing a subpoena because of reports Manafort could soon be indicted.

Feinstein has been pressing Grassley to issue a subpoena to Manafort, and other judiciary committee members have said that his testimony will be key to their investigation.

“We have tried to talk to Manafort’s lawyers for weeks and do not get a phone call returned. That would mandate that we have a subpoena,” Grassley said. “Now the questions that I can’t answer for you is, I don’t know whether it’s worth issuing subpoenas when somebody’s been indicted — if there’s any value in that.”

Grassley said he did not have any knowledge that a subpoena is coming beyond what’s been reported. The New York Times first reported this week that Mueller’s prosecutors told Manafort they planned to indict him

Grassley also said he has not been given any information on CNN’s report that Manafort was wiretapped under a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which began when he was under FBI investigation in 2014.