Senate

FBI Director Comey to brief top senators on Russia Wednesday

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FBI Director James Comey is meeting with the top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee amid demands that the bureau say if it is investigating any ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign. 
 
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee’s chairman and ranking member, respectively, told reporters separately that they are expecting to get a closed-door briefing later Wednesday. 
 
“I’ve been told that I’ll have a briefing this afternoon,” Grassley told reporters when asked about reports that Comey was expected to clarify any investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia by Wednesday. 
 
Grassley added that he hadn’t heard about the Wednesday deadline. 
 
Asked if she was getting a briefing with Grassley on Russia later Wednesday, Feinstein — the committee’s top Democrat — told reporters “yeah, we’re supposed to get a briefing.” 
 
A spokeswoman for Grassley confirmed that the two senators will be briefed by Comey. 
 
{mosads}The closed-door meeting comes less than a day after Grassley said he was blocking Rod Rosenstein’s nomination to serve in the No. 2 role at the Department of Justice until he is briefed on Russia. 

“Here’s what we’ve done: The Justice Department would like to get their deputy out of committee just as soon as they can. But I will not schedule a hearing on the Deputy Attorney General [Rod Rosenstein] until we get a briefing from Comey,” Grassley told reporters, according to Talking Points Memo

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for Rosenstein last week but hasn’t yet voted on the nomination. As chairman of the committee, Grassley can effectively hold up the nomination by refusing to schedule a committee vote. 

The two senators also requested a briefing last month about the circumstances that lead up to Michael Flynn’s resignation as President Trump’s national security adviser. 

They released a letter in February also requesting any transcripts of Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador and the FBI summary of the calls. 

Separately, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) — who oversee a Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism — are threatening to subpoena any warrant applications or court documents tied to a potential wiretap of the Trump campaign. 

“He hasn’t answered that letter. If he doesn’t answer it today I’m going to go to the chairman of the committee, Senator Grassley, and seek his support to subpoena,” Graham said during a Fox News radio interview. 
 
It’s unclear if Comey ever pledged to respond to their letter by Wednesday. 

Whitehouse reiterated to CNN on Wednesday that Comey said he would respond to them by Wednesday, but Graham separately told reporters that the FBI director never said he would respond. 

“The only thing he can be assured of is if they don’t answer my letter, the committee as a whole, I think, will subpoena the documents and I will stay on them to disclose whether or not there’s a criminal investigation,” Graham told reporters.
 
In addition to Graham and Whitehouse’s panel, the House and Senate Intelligence committees are investigating Russia’s meddling in the White House race and any ties to the Trump campaign. 
 
Comey briefed the top members of the Senate committee — Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) — as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) last week. He also briefed the entire Senate Intelligence Committee last month.
Tags Charles Schumer Chuck Grassley Dianne Feinstein Lindsey Graham Mark Warner Mitch McConnell Richard Burr Sheldon Whitehouse
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