House Republican leaders are vowing action this week, including possible contempt of Congress charges, if the Justice Department does not turn over subpoenaed documents on the Russia investigation. But it was not immediately clear precisely what documents lawmakers are still seeking.
They said Sunday that they delivered that message Friday night during a meeting that included House Speaker Paul Ryan, the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“Paul (Ryan) made it very clear; there’s going to be action on the floor of the House this week if the FBI and DOJ do not comply with our subpoena request …” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, who attended the meeting, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“So Rod Rosenstein, Chris Wray, you were in the meeting, you understood him just as clearly as I did,” the South Carolina Republican added. “We’re going to get compliance or the House of Representatives is going to use its full arsenal of constitutional weapons to gain compliance.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, who also attended the meeting, delivered a similar warning on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“If documents do not begin to be turned over tomorrow and a clear way and path forward for everything else is not clear here in the next couple days, there’s going to be hell to pay by Wednesday morning,” Nunes said.
Nunes, a California Republican, again raised the idea that House Republicans could hold Justice Department leaders in contempt of Congress.
The Justice Department declined to commit on the latest round of threats.
The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, called the Republican lawmakers’ threats a “transparent” and “cynical” move.
“By escalating their demands on the Justice Department in a manner designed to provoke a confrontation, the GOP leadership in Congress hopes to further undermine the Mueller probe,” the California Democrat said in a statement. It is transparent as it is cynical and shows just how complicit the Republican leadership has become in the President’s attack on the rule of law.”
Nunes made similar threats recently after he served the Department of Justice with subpoenas to review documents related to the FBI’s use of a confidential intelligence source during the 2016 presidential campaign.
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. Top law enforcement officials from the Justice Department, FBI, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence held two briefings with lawmakers in May and earlier this month.
The FBI dispatched a confidential source to speak with several of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign aides after the bureau obtained evidence that the aides had ties to Russia, according to several news reports.
The revelations over the source has caused consternation between the Justice Department, Capitol Hill and the White House for weeks.
President Donald Trump and his allies have repeatedly accused the FBI of spying on his campaign, with Trump claiming the FBI’s use of the informant is evidence that the Russia investigation is a “witch hunt” against him fabricated by Democrats and other enemies.
Those claims of bias have only escalated following the release of a Justice Department inspector general report detailing a series of failures by the top federal officials in charge of the Hillary Clinton email investigation ahead of the election. The report concluded that the FBI’s actions ultimately “cast a cloud” over the bureau and senior leaders did lasting damage to the FBI’s reputation. But it also found that the specific prosecutorial decisions reviewed in the Clinton case were “consistent” with precedent and not affected by bias or other improper actions.
Prior to the report’s release, Gowdy had said he was now “more convinced” that the FBI acted appropriately in its handling of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible connections to Donald Trump’s campaign. And in a break with Trump, Ryan had also said for the first time earlier this month that he agreed with Gowdy that the FBI did “exactly” what it should have done over its handling of the confidential source.
After the release of the report, however, Gowdy said: “This report confirms investigative decisions made by the FBI during the pendency of this investigation were unprecedented and deviated from traditional investigative procedures in favor of a much more permissive and voluntary approach. This is not the way normal investigations are run.”
CNN’s Laura Jarrett, Clare Foran, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju contributed to this report.