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Dems want DOJ to hand over docs related to Comey conversation

Dems want DOJ to hand over docs related to Comey conversation
© Greg Nash

Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee want the Justice Department to release documents they say will shed light on why notes related to a conversation with former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFBI investigated whether McCabe leaked info about Flynn and Trump to media House Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein Three reasons Mueller may not charge Trump with obstruction MORE were classified.

In a letter on Tuesday, the Democrats asked the committee's chairman, Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse GOP sets deposition deadline for Fusion GPS co-founder Collusion bombshell: DNC lawyers met with FBI on Russia allegations before surveillance warrant Comey rejects request for closed-door interview with House Republicans MORE (R-S.C.), to subpoena the Justice Department for the documents. They argue the documents will explain what they say was the inappropriate classification of notes taken by former Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente regarding a conversation he had with Comey in March 2017. 

"These notes are contemporaneous evidence corroborating a conversation in which Director Comey conveyed to Mr. Boente that President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE asked Director Comey to lift the 'cloud' of the Russia investigation and to 'get out' that the president was not under criminal investigation," the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTrump makes new overtures to Democrats Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Oversight Dems call for probe into citizenship question on 2020 census MORE (Md.), and Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchFor Capuano in Massachusetts, demography was destiny Insurgency shakes up Democratic establishment House Dems call for records on Bolton's ties to alleged Russian agent MORE (Mass.), ranking member of the panel's national security subcommittee, wrote in the letter. 

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"It is unclear who at the Department of Justice tried to improperly classify these notes, but it is an abuse of the classification system to try to classify information merely to conceal information from the American people for political reasons, and the Department of Justice is obstructing our investigation into this abuse by withholding these documents from Congress," the letter continued. 

Boente was interviewed by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE last month and handed over handwritten notes about his conversation with Comey, which could potentially be used as evidence into whether Trump obstructed justice when he asked Comey to lift the "cloud" around the Russia probe. 

Comey has publicly said that he relayed his March 2017 conversation with Trump to Boente. 

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow said last month her team had obtained a letter from Boente to Associate Deputy Attorney General Scott Schools, informing him of Mueller's request to interview him. 

"As Acting Deputy Attorney General, I was responsible for the overall operation of the Department of Justice, and given the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the investigation of the Russian government's interference in the 2016 presidential election," Boente said in the letter. 

Boente worked as acting deputy attorney general in 2017 after Trump fired Sally Yates and currently serves as the acting assistant attorney general of the National Security Division.

The request from Cummings and Lynch comes exactly one year after Trump fired Comey from his FBI post. 

Comey has since said Trump asked him to let go of the FBI's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and that the president asked him to publicize that he was not personally under investigation.

Trump, in turn, has accused Comey of lying about their interactions.