Capitol Hill investigations into Russia’s meddling and the Trump administration are facing increasing tensions. The White House and the Justice Department are withholding some records that are being asked for in this critical time within the probes.
The Capitol Hill investigations are moving simultaneously with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. There are three separate probes being done on the Hill, and they have asked for scores of documents that relate to things like Jared Kushner’s security clearance to records surrounding President Donald Trump’s discussions with James Comey before he was fired as FBI director.
The GOP leader of the House intelligence committee is threatening to hold a public hearing this week over documents the Justice Department has refused to turn over to Capitol Hill. The material in question has to do with the FBI’s ties to a British operative who compiled a dossier of allegations of Trump’s connections with Russia.
The GOP-led Senate judiciary committee is going toe to toe with the Justice Department’s deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, over several issues. They are looking at the department’s decision to prevent two senior FBI officials from sitting down for transcribed interviews on Capitol Hill to provide eyewitness accounts of the Comey firing.
Ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, told CNN on Saturday that the White House has “refused” since June to comply with the panel’s bipartisan request for documents focused on Trump’s interaction with James Comey, “despite repeated attempts” to obtain the information.
“The White House’s refusal to answer Congress in full and truthfully raises serious questions about the White House’s intent, including the potential that it is misleading Congress,” Schiff said in an email. “The White House must fully comply immediately; if it does not, the Committee should, on a bipartisan basis, subpoena the records.”
The White House has not commented when asked about its tension with Congress over the Russia documents. Both Trump and White House officials continue to deny that there was any level of collusions with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has called the probe a “witch hunt.”
“If we give it to Mueller, there is no reason for it to ever get to the Hill,” Cobb was reported as saying. During a luncheon over heard by a reporter.
The tension surrounding the White House and the Justice Department also extends to the Senate side of the investigations. The Justice Department has not responded to some key requests from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sens. Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, and Sen. Lindsey Graham sent requests in June to gain details on whether the US government sought to spy on any Trump associates during the last election season.
What has frustrated Grassley and the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is the Justice Department’s decision not to allow two senior FBI officials, James Rybicki and Carl Ghattas, to interview with the panel about the Comey firing.
“We’ve got subpoenas at the Senate counsel office,” Grassley told CNN last week, referring to the Senate office that would draft the subpoenas. “When we get done there, I’m gonna have to consult with Sen. Feinstein.”
Another matter that has raised significant concern is that the White House has ignored a July deadline to respond to a series of questions related to Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, about his application forms to get his security clearance. Kushner had to repeatedly amend his forms because of his failure to list meetings with foreign officials, including Russians.
What are your thoughts about the refusals from both the White House and the Justice Department to release pertinent documents in the ongoing investigations?