House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and fellow GOP committee member Trey Gowdy have been invited to the Justice Department for a classified briefing Thursday about the latest document request related to the Russia investigation, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
Talks between the Justice Department and Nunes have been intensifying over the last day as the two sides try to cut a deal and avoid a standoff that could lead to House Republicans ultimately pursuing contempt charges against Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The White House, which has thus far sided with the Justice Department over Nunes, has also been involved in the talks, multiple sources say. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and another top Justice Department official were seen leaving the White House on Tuesday evening.
Nunes and Rosenstein also discussed the matter over the phone Tuesday evening, according to sources briefed on the matter.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the FBI and national intelligence officials warned the White House last week that information requested by Nunes could put a confidential US intelligence source at risk, but Nunes and other House Republicans have since claimed that his document request did not refer to a specific individual.
However, CNN reviewed a copy of the non-classified appendix to last week’s subpoena, which directly requests “all documents referring or related to the individual referenced in Chairman Nunes’ April 24, 2018 letter to Attorney General Sessions.”
Rosenstein has been fielding the document requests squabbles in Sessions’ place, as many – including the most recent – cover ground within Sessions’ recusal from all materials related to the Russia investigation, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
Despite the department’s staunch concerns that releasing the information could endanger a source and an ongoing investigation, Republicans said Wednesday the department needed to comply with their request.
“We are entitled to it,” said Rep. Peter King of New York, a Republican who sits on the committee.
Rep. Tom Rooney, a GOP member of the panel, said the Justice Department’s concerns are unfounded because, he insisted, the panel would not disclose information that could put anyone’s lives at risk.
“That assumes we will immediately turn and leak that information, which would jeopardize potentially sources and methods,” Rooney said, pushing back at the notion “that we have a cavalier attitude about such things and we will just release it.”
The White House has so far signaled its support for the Justice Department’s position, but a top White House official indicated Wednesday that the two sides needed to continue to work resolution.
“I think that the Department of Justice and Chairman Nunes should be having more conversations about sharing more information,” said Marc Short, head of legislative affairs for the White House.