The Justice Department and House Republicans appear to be careening toward their tensest confrontation yet in a long-running dispute over documents, with one GOP lawmaker warning that the House could seek to hold officials in contempt of Congress if the FBI and DOJ fail to comply with subpoenas for information.
House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said Sunday that Speaker Paul Ryan led a meeting Friday with FBI and DOJ officials in which lawmakers “went item by item” through outstanding subpoenas from the House intelligence and judiciary committees.
“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,” Gowdy said on “Fox News Sunday.” “So [Deputy Attorney General] 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.”
Asked by host Chris Wallace whether that could include holding officials in contempt of Congress, Gowdy said yes.
“I don’t want the drama,” Gowdy said. “I want the documents.”
Lawmakers have demanded documents related to the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server, the firing of FBI official Andrew McCabe and the surveillance starting in 2016 of a former campaign aide to President Donald Trump. It wasn’t clear exactly which documents provoked the current level of rancor, but Ryan’s participation in the meeting Friday showed that the fight has risen beyond the committees and could envelop the full House.
Republicans have insisted the FBI and DOJ are stonewalling the requests, though the agencies say they are trying to diligently screen the documents. Democrats have accused their Republican counterparts of a political vendetta against the law enforcement agencies aimed at discrediting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election…