Faced with the threat of a subpoena, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly ready to hand over copies of former FBI Director James Comey’s memos detailing his interactions with President Trump, reports Bloomberg as well as CNN Justice Reporter Laura Jarrett.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 19, 2018
The memos – leaked to the New York Times through Comey pal and Columbia Law professor Daniel Richman, were a major catalyst in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
As reported Wednesday by The Hill, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was expected to subpoena the Department of Justice as early as this week in order to obtain copies of seven memos Comey created.
The chairman on Wednesday notified the ranking Democrat, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), that a subpoena is forthcoming. Under Judiciary committee rules, the chairman must consult the ranking member two business days “before issuing any subpoena” — suggesting that the move is imminent.
The order comes after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asked three powerful House lawmakers — Goodlatte, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) — to give him extra time to consult with the “relevant parties” on whether he can make the memos available to them. –The Hill
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein seemingly began to stall on the requested document delivery – telling lawmakers on Monday that the Comey memos may be related to an “ongoing investigation,” and that they may “report confidential presidential communications,” meaning that Congressional investigators have a “legal duty to evaluate the consequences of providing access to them.”
Ranking Democrat Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY) backed Rosenstein’s pushback earlier in the week, calling the GOP’s imminent subpoena as political “theater” which may interfere with Mueller’s investigation.
“The Comey memos are key to the Special Counsel’s work. Pursuant to long-standing Department policy and absent any satisfactory accommodation, the Department of Justice cannot simply hand over evidence that is part of an ongoing criminal investigation,” Nadler said.
“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. If they succeed in tarnishing the Deputy Attorney General, perhaps they will have given President Trump the pretext he has sought to replace Mr. Rosenstein with someone willing to do his bidding and end the Special Counsel’s investigation,” he added.
In a Monday response from Rosenstein, the Deputy AG referenced a 77-year-old opinion of Attorney General Robert Jackson who wrote “all investigative reports are confidential documents of the executive department and that congressional and public access thereto would not be in the public interest,” while pointing to a long list of his predecessors who agreed.
“Investigative reports include leads and suspicions, and sometimes even the statements of malicious or misinformed people. Even though later and more complete reports exonerate the individuals, the use of particular or selected reports might constitute the grossest injustice, and we all know that a correction never catches up with an accusation,” Jackson argued at the time.
Hey @Comey. Just heard that DOJ is ready to send your memos to congress. Perfect timing with the book tour — you can’t hide from the press.
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) April 19, 2018