House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), along with other congressional lawmakers, are not expecting Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to comply with the Monday deadline to turn over documents related to the FBI’s investigation into its handling of the Russia investigation. According to sources who spoke with this reporter, the failure to comply with the request could lead to the threat of contempt or impeachment procedures by lawmakers.
Specifically, the lawmakers want to know if the DOJ and FBI used informants to spy on the Trump campaign, how many were used, and if they were used, how much it cost the taxpayers.
“…everyone is frankly, exhausted by the DOJ’s failure to comply…”
This Thursday, Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray will come head-to-head with lawmakers at a hearing scheduled with the House Judiciary Committee. The two are expected to testify about growing concerns that senior members of the FBI were biased and mishandled the bureau’s investigation into alleged collusion between members of President Trump’s campaign and Russia.
The pair are expected to testify about the “findings contained in the Justice Department Inspector Generalâ€™s report about various actions taken by the Justice Department and FBI in 2016, as well as regarding the Committeeâ€™s oversight investigation into these matters.”
Embattled FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, who was a key figure in the Russia investigation and investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for government business, is also set to testify behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, according the the committee.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) are expected to ask hard-hitting questions of both Wray and Rosenstein. Numerous lawmakers and Congressional officials told this reporter that they are exhausted and frustrated by the DOJ and FBI’s lack of compliance with requests made by the oversight committees.
Justice Department officials have argued against the lawmakers demands, saying they have cooperated with the committee’s requests. On June 22, the FBI sent two letters – a classified and a non-classified – Â to the House Intelligence Committee, but Nunes said the letters “raised more questions than answers.”
“These questions include whether the FBI and Department of Justice leadership intend to obey the law and fully comply with duly authorized congressional subpoenas,” a letter sent by Nunes on Sunday to the DOJ stated. Nunes noted that the DOJ and FBI have failed to comply with the April 30 subpoena (sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and later delegated to Rosenstein) for the documents.
“You have unilaterally restricted access to these materials to the ‘Gang Of Eight,'” Nunes wrote in the letter. “As the committee has repeatedly stated, this is unacceptable.”
Nunes demanded answers to several questions in his letter to Rosenstein:
- Who- you or Director Wray – is responsible for compliance with the Committee’s subpoenas and requests that have been issued to the DOJ, including the FBI?
- Did the FBI use informants against members or associates of the Trump campaign and if so, how many informants were used and how much money was spent on their activities?
DOJ spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, said the DOJ’s response to the committee stands and referred any statement to the letter sent to Nunes by the FBI on Friday.
A congressional official who works closely with the committees said the DOJ’s response is unacceptable and noted that Nunes, along with other lawmakers, are not in agreement with turning over the documents to the ‘Gang of Eight’ which they say will severely restrict who can view it.
“They want to give it to the Gang of Eight, but this is not Gang of Eight information,” the congressional official said. “If they put this at the Gang of Eight level, the lawmakers who view it won’t be able to share any of it with the rest of their committee or investigators. Â The DOJ is trying to say we gave them a briefing on the documents, but what we subpoenaed are the documents. We did not subpoena them for a briefing.”
Lawmakers will have “three main hammers to get the DOJ to comply: impeachment proceedings, contempt, or taking the DOJ to court,” the congressional official said. “The discussion now is which one of these we will move on, but everyone is frankly, exhausted by the DOJ’s failure to comply.”
According to numerous congressional sources, the House Freedom Caucus has already drawn up the paperwork necessary to start impeachment proceedings on Rosenstein.
“If you put a gun to my head and made me guess, I would say they want to test us to see if we’re bluffing or not and I think once they realize that we’re not bluffing that might spark some change in them,” said the congressional official.