Top House Republicans have given the Department of Justice several more days to comply with a request for copies of former FBI Director James Comey’s memos detailing his encounters with President Trump, according to congressional aides and a DOJ official.
Shawn Thew/EPA via ShutterstockFBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on ‘Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.’May 3, 2017.
On Friday, ahead of Comey’s first television interview and media tour where he has criticized President Trump’s conduct in office and likened his behavior to that of a mafia boss seeking loyalty, Reps. Devin Nunes, R-California, Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, and Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, asked Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein for both un-redacted and de-classified forms of Comey’s memos.
While a select number of senators, House members and staff have been allowed to read the memos, they have not been made available to the full membership of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Judiciary Committees.
Jacquelyn Martin/APDeputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein answers a question after announcing that the office of special counsel Robert Mueller announced a grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and several Russian entities, Feb. 16, 2018, in Washington.
“I think they ought to be released publicly, but they certainly ought to be released to Congress,” Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee and a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, said on an interview with Fox News last week.
In his interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopolous, Comey said he documented “nearly every encounter” with Trump, writing classified memos regarding some meetings, and unclassified memos on his personal computer for unclassified encounters.
Comey said he asked a friend to leak one of the memos – which included details from a meeting with Trump where Comey says the president asked him to shut down the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn – when he was concerned that the president may have recorded their conversations at the White House.
The Republicans have asked for copies of the unclassified memos in unredacted form, and for the classified memos to be turned over in both unredacted and declassified form, with redactions.
Gowdy, who has read the memos, said last week on Fox News that the memos “would be defense exhibit A in an obstruction of justice prosecution.”
The lawmakers asked for the memos by the close of business on Monday, but have given DOJ more time to comply after the agency sent them a letter acknowledging their request, according to a DOJ official.
Gowdy, along with Nunes – the chairman of the Intelligence Committee – and Goodlatte – the chairman of the Judiciary Committee – have been conducting investigations into allegations of political bias at DOJ in the handling of the Clinton and Russia probes.
Republicans, along with Trump, have all clashed with Rosenstein over making documents available to Congress. (The memos were previously requested by lawmakers, but only made available to select members of Congress and staff.)
Some Democrats have expressed concern that Trump could use the issue as the pretext for removing Rosenstein, who supervises special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.