The White House and Justice Department leaders are racing to defuse an ugly confrontation with House Republicans over access to sensitive documents connected to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to four sources with knowledge of the discussions.
In a late Tuesday phone call with top GOP lawmakers, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered to meet with key House members at the Justice Department on Thursday to discuss the issue. But they stopped short of promising full access to the material they’re requesting, the sources said.
Kelly encouraged Rosenstein and the lawmakers – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy – to work together to resolve disputes between DOJ and GOP investigators, according to sources familiar with the call. Kelly admonished both sides against messy public disputes that have ratcheted up tension between Rosenstein and Nunes to an untenable degree of severity.
The lawmakers spoke to Kelly amid a last-ditch blitz by the Justice Department and FBI to convince the White House that sharing the information the Republicans were seeking would jeopardize national security.
Nunes and other House Republicans accuse the Justice Department of crying wolf, and insist they have a responsibility to review the documents.
The nature of the documents at issue is unclear because the information in the request itself is classified. Nunes issued a subpoena for them last month but was rebuffed by Justice Department officials.
The Justice Department is warning that their request could endanger the life of a crucial intelligence source. The subpoena Nunes filed on April 30, obtained by POLITICO, demands "all documents referring or relating to the individual referenced in Chairman Nunes’s April 24, 2018 classified letter to Attorney General Sessions." Republicans on the committee have indicated that they weren’t seeking information about a specific individual.
“Disclosure of responsive information to such requests can risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationship with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations and interference with intelligence activities,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter last Thursday.
But GOP sources said that Nunes has the blessing of key House Republican leaders to pursue the documents. That was clear late Tuesday, when House Majority Whip Steve Scalise strongly endorsed Nunes’ demands.
“I don’t know why Justice is trying to hide information,” Scalise said on Fox News. “But we’re going to use every tool we have to get the facts out.”
The original story can be found here.
Be First to Comment