Sen. Chuck Grassley had said he was mulling subpoenas for two senior FBI officials
A source familiar with the matter told CNN a resolution was not reached Thursday
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein privately met Thursday with Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, amid a standoff where the Justice Department has prevented the committee from interviewing two senior FBI officials about the circumstances around former FBI Director James Comey’s firing.
Rosenstein and Grassley sat down in Grassley’s Senate office for nearly an hour. Afterward, the Iowa Republican declined to say whether they had come to an agreement.
“We’ve had some issues, and we discussed those issues,” Grassley told CNN. “It was a very friendly meeting.”
Grassley said last week he was preparing subpoenas for the two senior FBI officials the Justice Department is preventing the committee from interviewing.
Grassley and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, want the 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.
But the Justice Department has so far refused to grant the request, citing the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, which is investigating possible obstruction of justice tied to Comey’s firing, CNN has reported.
A source familiar with the matter told CNN a resolution was not reached in the dispute over the FBI officials, but the two sides agreed to keep talking.
Rosenstein also met on Thursday with House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes, who has issued subpoenas to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray over producing documents connected to the Russia dossier, the source said.
Rosenstein declined to comment on the meeting as he left the Capitol.
Grassley and Feinstein this week also slammed the FBI for entering into a non-disclosure agreement with the Office of Special Counsel – unrelated to Mueller’s special counsel – before turning over information related to an investigation into Comey.
The Office of Special Counsel was investigating whether Comey violated the Hatch Act, which is intended to keep federal employees from directly endorsing political candidates, and Grassley said the FBI only provided information to the counsel’s office on the grounds it wouldn’t be shared with Congress.
“Why now? Why was the FBI so focused on keeping Congress in the dark? Why is it so afraid of shining the light of day on the controversial decisions Mr. Comey made in the months before he was fired?” Grassley said at a Tuesday hearing on two bills to protect Mueller from being fired.
During the same hearing, Grassley asked the constitutional experts testifying about the prospect that Rosenstein might have to recuse himself from the Mueller probe because he testified as a witness in the investigation.
“According to recent press reports, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein has been interviewed as a fact witness,” Grassley said of Mueller’s probe. “Do you believe that poses a conflict of interest and should Deputy Attorney General consult the ethics professionals at the Department of Justice about the issue?”
CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report.