DOJ Plans Meeting to Defuse House GOP Contempt Threat, Source SaysBy
The Justice Department has invited two top House Republican chairmen to a meeting Thursday aimed at accommodating their demands for classified information related to the continuing Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The department is trying to satisfy the demands of House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy and House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, the person said. Nunes has threatened to pursue contempt charges against Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, if they don’t comply with a subpoena.
Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Tuesday that he hasn’t spoken with Nunes about the issue yet. “We expect the administration to comply” with congressional requests, Ryan said.
The Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena last week to demand Justice Department documents related to the origins of the Russia investigation now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The yearlong inquiry has been marred by partisan disagreement and political posturing from the beginning, and Nunes’s threats risk further escalating the institutional tension just months before midterm elections.
“We know they have a long history of stonewalling us, and we’re well aware of it, that’s why we need to move more quickly than usual,” Nunes, a California Republican, said in an interview Monday. “We’re not going to give them the opportunity to squirm around and put lies out and mislead and obfuscate like they’ve done in the past. Those days are over.”
Sessions is recused from the Russian probe, but he backed his department’s decision to deny the panel some documents, citing their sensitivity.
Sessions said Tuesday at a news conference in California, referring to Nunes, that the department “has written him a letter and responded as appropriate to him.”
“The request he’s made is one the intelligence community and the Department of Justice feels is not grantable,” Sessions said, noting that the documents at issue relate to an ongoing, active investigation.
— With assistance by Anna Edgerton