In a significant shift, the Justice Department will extend an offer on Thursday to top lawmakers on Capitol Hill to review certain documents related to the FBI’s use of a confidential intelligence source during the 2016 presidential campaign early next week, according to a senior Justice Department official.
The move represented a notable concession for the department in an ongoing saga over the FBI source who reportedly met with at least three Trump campaign aides during the campaign – a point President Donald Trump has seized on in recent weeks to assert, without evidence, that his campaign was wrongfully spied on.
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes served the department with a subpoena for the documents, threatening to hold Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in contempt of Congress on several occasions if he did not turn them over.
Initially, the Justice Department resisted providing Congress with the materials, fearing the source’s life would be placed at risk, but it later decided to provide members with classified briefings to answer questions.
On May 24, top officials at the Justice Department, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence provided two briefings to lawmakers, but the scope of what exactly was revealed about the source’s work was unclear at the time.
According to the senior DOJ official, some materials were previously made available during the briefing on Capitol Hill with the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate and the Intelligence committees. Another source briefed on the meeting said officials brought a stack of documents to the table that were left untouched.
“The Department and FBI are prepared to brief members on certain questions specifically raised by the Speaker and other members. The Department will also provide the documents that were available for review but not inspected by the members at the previous briefing along with some additional material. The briefing is expected on Monday or Tuesday, depending on members’ schedules,” the Justice official said.
“The Department and FBI believes it can provide information that is directly responsive to congressional inquiries in a manner that is consistent with its national security and law enforcement responsibilities, and is pleased to do so,” the Justice official added. “Although the Department and FBI would have liked to provide this information as early as this week, officials have taken a little additional time to provide the most fulsome answers to the members’ questions as possible. The Department and FBI take congressional inquiries seriously and believe that the documents provided next week will be valuable to the Gang of Eight.”
The revelations over the source has caused consternation between the Justice Department, Capitol Hill and the White House for weeks.
But in a break with Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan said for the first time Wednesday that he agreed with Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy that the FBI did “exactly” what it should have done over its handling of a confidential source.