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Nunes accuses DOJ of ‘obstruction,’ demands release of FBI informant documents
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Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is losing his patience with the Justice Department.
The House Intelligence Committee Chairman accused the DOJ of obstruction, demanding that they hand over documents on the FBI informant that contacted members of the Trump campaign by Tuesday.
Nunes has been seeking documents from the Justice Department about the informant since April.
Nunes: DOJ is guilty of “obstruction”
Nunes sent a letter Friday to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein accusing his agency of “obstruction” by dragging its feet and limiting access to the documents. He called for the documents to be made available to all committee members and “designated staff” rather than just the “Gang of Eight”, or top-ranking members of both congressional houses and intelligence committees.
“DOJ continues to obfuscate and delay its production using an array of tactics, such as incorrectly categorizing the requested documents as Gang-of-Eight-level material in order to limit access,” wrote Nunes. “Such conduct by DOJ is unacceptable because the Gang-of-Eight is a legal fiction that has no basis outside of the confines of Presidential approval and reporting of covert actions.”
The chairman had subpoenaed the agencies for information on April 30. Nunes added, “Your continued refusal to permit Members of Congress and designated staff to review the requested documents is obstruction of a lawful Congressional investigation.”
“I will not relent in my duties on behalf of the American public to discover all the facts in this matter,” Nunes said. “Any response falling short of this request will be considered an effort to conceal material information from Congress — a dangerous precedent that threatens the core of our democracy.”
But a spokesperson for Rosenstein said the deputy AG would respond after the deadline at the next briefing, scheduled for Thursday, after returning from a “brief unrelated visit to a foreign nation.” Congressmen will get to see new documents that were not available at the May 24 briefing and “the documents that were available for review but not inspected by the members at the previous briefing.”
“He, along with the FBI Director and DNI Coats, look forward to further briefing and again presenting responsive documents to Chairman Nunes and the rest of his colleagues in the Gang of 8 meeting scheduled for Thursday of this week,” the spokesperson said.
Chasing paper trails
The Justice Department and FBI had offered to brief the “Gang of Eight” this week after succumbing to pressure from Republicans demanding answers about the informant and the agencies’ handling of the Russia probe. The agencies originally denied Nune’s request altogether but then gave the “Gang of Eight” a peek at its findings at two briefings last month after criticism from Republicans.
The Republican quest for answers on the informant is just the latest struggle with the intelligence agencies, which Republicans have accused of corruption, bias, and a lack of accountability in their handling of the Clinton and Trump probes. Republicans have routinely accused the Justice Department of playing kick the can with requests for information about misconduct in the intelligence community.
While Nunes is pressing for answers on “Spygate,” others, like Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), have downplayed allegations of conspiracy. Gowdy, who attended the briefings, was skeptical of the claims of malicious spying.
“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy, said in a Fox News interview.
Ryan: DOJ should comply
Ryan has joined Gowdy in clearing the FBI of wrongdoing, but he nevertheless continues to support the Republicans’ demands for information. Ryan said Thursday:
Frankly the sooner the Department of Justice complies with all of our document requests, which are legitimate document requests, the better this is going to be for everybody, and had they complied with the document requests earlier when we made them, we probably could have spared the country of all of this drama.
Trump asked the Justice Department to expand an existing Inspector General probe of FBI misconduct to scrutinize “Spygate” shortly after the story of the informant, identified as former University of Cambridge professor Stefan Halper, went public. Rosenstein honored Trump’s request shortly after.
What does the Justice Department have to hide? As Ryan pointed out, they should grant Republicans, and the American people, full transparency without further delay. The people deserve to know the truth.
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