House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte intends to subpoena the Justice Department in order to get the memos of former FBI Director James Comey in which he memorialized his conversations with President Donald Trump, two sources familiar with the matter said.
They added that the subpoena may be issued as soon as this week. It would certainly escalate a feud between the Justice Department and the three GOP chairmen demanding access to the Comey memos as part of their investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email inquiry in 2016, CNN writes.
The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerry Nadler, said in a statement Wednesday that House Oversight Chairman Tey Gowdy had notified him of the plans to issue a subpoena. He added that House Republicans seemed to be trying to hold Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in contempt.
“If House Republicans refuse any accommodation short of the Department of Justice handing over custody of these documents — which it cannot do — I fear the majority will have manufactured an excuse to hold the deputy attorney general in contempt of Congress,” Nadler said.
Goodlatte wants the Justice Department to hand over to Congress unredacted copies of Comey’s memos, though Justice maintains that the redactions were intended to protect ongoing FBI investigations.
The three Republican chairmen, Goodlatte, Gowdy and Devin Nunes sent Rosenstein a letter Friday demanding the memos, to which he responded by asking for more time.
“One or more of the memos may relate to an ongoing investigation, may contain classified information, and may report confidential Presidential communications, so we have a legal duty to evaluate the consequences of providing access to them,” Rosenstein wrote.
He further said in the letter that certain members of Congress have already been provided with the Comey memos with the “understanding they would not be further disclosed.”
“That mutual trust — the ability to allow a limited number of persons to review documents without publicizing them — is essential to oversight of sensitive matters,” Rosenstein wrote.
However, according to Gowdy, there’s nothing in the memos that should prevent the Justice Department from providing Congress with them. He said the redactions are minor, and the larger issue is that Congress should be given access to the memos as part of its oversight role.