Lawmakers Threaten to Use ‘Constitutional Weapons’ if DOJ Continues Stonewalling Document Requests
House Speaker Paul Ryan told lawmakers and senior officials from the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) at a meeting on June 15 that he plans to take action on the House floor to break a longstanding impasse between Congress and the DOJ over two subpoenas for government records.
Lawmakers and representatives from the FBI and DOJ met on June 15 to review the details of the two subpoenas, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy told Fox News on June 17. The record request includes documents related to the allegations of surveillance and spying on the Trump campaign, the conduct of investigators on the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Lawmakers have been demanding to see the documents for months, but the Justice Department continually refused to comply, citing the need to review each document for sensitive national security information. The full scope of the request encompasses more than 1 million records. Ryan said there will be action this week if the DOJ fails to comply.
“The full panoply of constitutional weapons available to the people’s House” are are in play, including contempt of Congress, Gowdy told Fox News. “I don’t want the drama. I want the documents.”
During the monthslong standoff, House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes threatened the deputy attorney general with impeachment hearings and contempt charges. The Justice Department gave ground by letting a limited group of lawmakers review batches of documents on at least two occasions.
“Under the heading of minor miracles, you had members of the House working on a Friday night,” Gowdy said. “Paul Ryan led this meeting. You had Devin Nunes, [House Judiciary Committee Chair] Bob Goodlatte, myself, and everyone you can think of from the FBI and the DOJ, and we went item by item on both of those outstanding subpoenas.”
“And Paul 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,” he said.
“So, Rod Rosenstein, [FBI Director] Chris Wray—you were in the meeting, you understood him just as clearly as I did. We’re going to get compliance or the House of Representatives is going to use its full arsenal of constitutional weapons to gain compliance.”
The stand-off between Rosenstein and the committees conducting congressional oversight of the Justice Department has been heated for months. Last week, The Epoch Times reported that emails about a January 2018 closed-door meeting between the DOJ, FBI, and staffers from the House intelligence committee described a threat by Rosenstein to subpoena the emails and phone records of lawmakers and their staff.
Nunes and Gowdy also claimed last week that top officials in the Justice Department are mounting a coordinated attack against a congressional staffer aiding their committees in investigating misconduct within the DOJ tied to a surveillance operation against the Trump campaign.
“Attacking staffers, planting false stories, and endangering national security by leaking sensitive information to the press, including information about intelligence sources—this is what the DOJ is doing, and this why trust in the DOJ is rapidly eroding in Congress,” Nunes said at the time.
The urgency of obtaining the documents intensified on June 14 with the release of the watchdog report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General. The report is the result of an 18-month investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe.
The detailed document revealed a pattern of strong bias among the top investigators in both the Clinton email probe and the investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The inspector general concluded that the bias, though pervasive, did not impact the outcome of the Clinton email probe.
Among the revelations in the watchdog’s report was a text message between from the top investigator in both the Clinton and Trump probes, Peter Strzok, to his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, vowing to stop Trump from becoming president.