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Democrats want to know if Justice Dept. shared info on Russia investigation with Trump lawyers

Democrats want to know if Justice Dept. shared info on Russia investigation with Trump lawyers
© Greg Nash

Democratic leaders in Congress sent a letter to the Justice Department on Tuesday questioning whether information divulged about the Russia investigation during a classified briefing for congressional leaders by agency officials last month was disclosed to lawyers working for President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE.

A letter from the Democratic members of the Gang of Eight, which includes House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn MORE (D-N.Y.), Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHarris shares Thanksgiving recipe: 'During difficult times I have always turned to cooking' Biden leans on foreign policy establishment to build team Trump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin MORE (D-Va.) and Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn Trump pardons Michael Flynn MORE (D-N.Y.), asks the agency to confirm that no materials from their briefing were later reported to Trump's lawyers.

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The letter comes in response to demands from Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, for information on the use of an FBI informant that spoke to members of the Trump campaign as part of the investigation. Information on the informant was part of the congressional briefing.

"These demands, if fulfilled, would grossly violate our system of checks and balances, established procedure and fundamental norms. Although he has not been indicted, President Trump’s own conduct reportedly remains under examination by the Special Counsel," the Democrats wrote.

"And absent an indictment, the subjects of federal investigation cannot access law enforcement or related national security information for any reason."

The letter also demands that Justice Department officials cease briefing other congressional Republicans, notably Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyThe Hunter Biden problem won't go away Sunday shows preview: Joe Biden wins the 2020 election Sunday shows preview: Election integrity dominates as Nov. 3 nears MORE (R-S.C.) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on the Russia investigation. That demand also follows the White House's initially organizing a briefing that only included Republican leaders. That meeting included Gowdy and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesOvernight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition Sunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight MORE (R-Calif.), also a member of the Gang of Eight.

The Democrats go on in the letter to say that Trump's attorneys and Republicans will seek to use the information to discredit the FBI and the Justice Department.

"As the President’s attorney has made clear, his legal team wishes to obtain the classified information at issue, not for any legitimate purpose—but instead to frustrate and discredit publicly the work of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation," they wrote.

"These developments leave us concerned that, through his legal team or otherwise, the President will continue to pressure your agencies to divulge investigative information which he, his attorneys, and his congressional allies then could manipulate or even disclose publicly for the President’s personal or political benefit. That would be a terrible abuse of power"

Justice Department officials briefed both the group of just Republicans as well as the full Gang of Eight last month on the FBI's use of the informant, after which Gowdy seemed to rebuke the president and his allies by claiming that the agency's practices were aboveboard.

"I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump," he told Fox News.