U.S. House Republicans said Saturday they are drafting a contempt of Congress resolution against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, claiming stonewalling in producing material in the Russia-Trump probes and other matters.
“Unless all our outstanding demands are fully met by close of business on Monday, December 4, 2017, the committee will have the opportunity to move this resolution before the end of the month,” said Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, in a statement.
Such contempt action has been under consideration by Nunes and other Intelligence Committee Republicans for several weeks. It is now moving forward after press reports Saturday about why a top FBI official assigned to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russia-Trump election collusion had been removed from the investigation.
In his statement Saturday, Nunes pointed to those reports that the official, Peter Strzok, was removed after allegedly exchanging anti-Trump and pro-Hillary Clinton text messages with his mistress, who was an FBI lawyer working for Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Until now, said Nunes, the FBI and Department of Justice have failed to sufficiently comply with an Aug. 24 committee subpoena — including by specifically refusing repeated demands “for an explanation of Peter Strzok’s dismissal from the Mueller probe.”
“In light of today’s press reports, we now know why Strzok was dismissed, why the FBI and DOJ refused to provide us this explanation, and at least one reason why they previously refused to make Deputy Director McCabe available to the Committee for an interview,” said Nunes.
“By hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress’ constitutional oversight responsibility,” he said.
Nunes went on in his statement to say this has been part of “a months-long pattern by the DOJ and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this Committee’s oversight work,” including also withholding subpoenaed information about their use of an opposition research dossier that targeted President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
The dossier, which included salacious allegations about Trump, was paid for in part by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton through a law firm. Nunes and other committee Republicans — backed by Speaker Paul Ryan — say they want to investigate whether the Justice Department and FBI may have improperly relied on the dossier to kick-start federal surveillance that Trump associates were caught up in, without independently confirming the information they used to justify such spying.
“The DOJ has now expressed — on a Saturday, just hours after the press reports on Strzok’s dismissal appeared — sudden willingness to comply with some of the Committee’s long-standing demands,” Nunes said. “This attempted 11th-hour accommodation is neither credible nor believable, and in fact is yet another example of the DOJ’s disingenuousness and obstruction.”
Those agencies “should be investigating themselves,” he said. A Justice Department spokesman, Sarah Isgur Flores, could not be immediately reached for comment by telephone or text.