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DOJ gives Nunes access to document that launched FBI's Russia probe

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes' dispute with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christo...

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 11:19 AM
Updated: Apr 12, 2018 11:19 AM

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes' dispute with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray appeared to de-escalate Wednesday after Nunes was given access to the document that kicked off the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.

Nunes had been threatening to hold Rosenstein and Wray in contempt -- and to potentially impeach them -- if the Justice Department didn't cooperate with his committee amid stepped-up congressional Republican criticism of Rosenstein as President Donald Trump considers whether to fire him.

A Justice official told CNN that Nunes and Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina went to the Justice Department on Wednesday to view the document, known as an electronic communication, which details the origination of the counterintelligence investigation into Trump's team and Russia that began in July 2016. The official said the document was no longer redacted, except for "narrowly tailored" redactions to protect the name of a foreign country and foreign agent that, if revealed, could undermine "the trust we have with this foreign nation."

The Justice Department also made 1,000 pages of classified materials available to the full House Intelligence Committee, the official said, which the department believes "substantially satisfied" Nunes' August 2017 subpoena.

Nunes disagreed with that characterization, saying the committee's subpoenas "remain in effect," but he also had kind words for Rosenstein.

"Although the subpoenas issued by this Committee in August 2017 remain in effect, I'd like to thank Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein for his cooperation today," the California Republican said in a statement.

Nunes' comments were a stark change from his position 24 hours ago, when he suggested Republicans could impeach the deputy attorney general.

"Well, I can just tell you we're not just going to hold in contempt -- we will have a plan to hold in contempt and to impeach," Nunes said in a Fox News interview Monday.

But Rosenstein isn't out of hot water on Capitol Hill yet, as Republicans on the Judiciary and Oversight committees have also slammed him over failing to provide documents related to the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Senior Republicans on the key committees in the House bluntly warned that it was time to hold the senior officials in contempt.

"I would certainly support that," Rep. Peter King, an ally of Trump's who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN earlier Wednesday when asked about holding Wray and Rosenstein in contempt. "We need these documents and they won't give them to us. They've been stonewalling us for a year on one document after another."

Congressional action against Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller and has the authority to fire him, could add to Trump's ire toward the deputy attorney general. And if the House were to take aggressive action against Rosenstein, it could give Trump cover to fire the deputy attorney general, who is ultimately in charge of the Mueller investigation.

"Well, I can just tell you we're not just going to hold in contempt -- we will have a plan to hold in contempt and to impeach," Nunes had said in a Fox News interview earlier Monday.

In addition to Nunes' demand, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, has subpoenaed the Justice Department demanding a wide range of documents about the FBI's handling of the Clinton email investigation in 2016. In response, the department delegated dozens of more staff to comply with the request and named a US attorney from Utah, John Lausch, to oversee the document production.

Still, Republicans say the response has been paltry, giving ammunition for Trump to go after Rosenstein.

"Absolutely," Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican and close Trump ally who sits on the House Oversight Committee, said when asked if Rosenstein and Wray should be held in contempt. "At this particular point, they have not complied with a subpoena. They should be held in contempt."

Meadows, who met with Lausch on Monday, said: "They can't tell us how many documents they're going to deliver, when they're going to deliver it, how they'll redact it. Those are three questions that they've had five months to answer and they can't answer it. It's appalling."

While Republicans have been threatening to hold Rosenstein and Wray in contempt of Congress if they don't cooperate with both the House Intelligence and House Judiciary committee subpoenas for documents, Nunes' comments appeared to be the first to suggest impeachment.

Meadows said the first step would be for Congress to hold Rosenstein and Wray in contempt, and impeachment could follow if the documents still aren't produced. "It would be the first step you hold them in contempt, then you have other tools in the toolbox if you do not get the documents," he said. "But it is certainly on that path to impeachment."

CNN reported Tuesday that Trump is considering firing Rosenstein in the aftermath of the FBI raid of the office of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said Wednesday that the threat from the GOP serves "insidious purposes: to intimidate DOJ and FBI, to provide the President with a pretext to fire Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and FBI Director Wray, and to undermine special counsel Mueller's investigation."

A GOP leadership aide said Nunes has not spoken to House Speaker Paul Ryan yet about the possibility of moving to hold Wray or Rosenstein in contempt.

Nunes had given the Justice Department a Wednesday deadline to provide an unredacted copy of the document, saying what they had previously provided in redacted form was not sufficient.

Still, firing Mueller or Rosenstein would prompt a backlash from many Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have publicly cautioned Trump against taking steps against the special counsel's investigation.

King, a New York Republican, said while he supports holding Wray and Rosenstein in contempt if they don't turn over the documents, he was opposed to any effort that would oust them because of the Pandora's box it would open with the Mueller investigation.

"There's the consequences of Rosenstein that would open up. It would just create a firestorm," King told CNN. "Whether it's right or wrong to do it, the fact is it would create a firestorm that doesn't make it worthwhile."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
Covington219973
Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
Chickasaw189044
Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
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