House Judiciary Chair expected to issue DOJ subpoena over Clinton emails as soon as this week

Greg Nash
The head of the House Judiciary Committee is expected to subpoena the Department of Justice (DOJ) as soon as this week to obtain documents related to how the FBI handled its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, The Hill has learned.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) have been leading a joint probe into what the two lawmakers say may be evidence of political bias in the highest levels at the Justice Department.

While one source with direct knowledge of the matter cautioned that the exact timeline was still murky, multiple sources told The Hill that they expect the summons to go out Wednesday or Thursday.

{mosads}The chairman on Monday notified the ranking Democrat, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), that a subpoena is forthcoming, a spokesperson separately confirmed.

Under Judiciary committee rules, the chairman must consult the ranking member two business days “before issuing any subpoena” — suggesting that the move is imminent.

Republicans have become increasingly frustrated over the past couple months at what they say is the lagging pace in which the DOJ has turned over documents from the inspector general’s concurrent probe into the 2016 presidential election. GOP lawmakers say they’ve received only a small fraction of the records they want to obtain — approximately 3,000 out of 1.2 million documents.

Goodlatte has been under tremendous pressure from conservatives in his own committee to pick up the pace of the investigation. On Sunday, he threatened to subpoena the law enforcement agency “soon” if it did not turn over the documents the committee is seeking.

“We need to have those documents,” Goodlatte told host Maria Bartiromo on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“We’ve had communications with the Department of Justice about this and they know that not just myself and Chairman Gowdy, but many other members of the House are very concerned about the slow nature of those documents being produced. And as I say, actions are going to have to take a new level here very soon,” he said.

It remains unclear which officials the subpoena will target. A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.

Lawmakers have privately buzzed since last week that the chairman was preparing a subpoena, suggesting they have no other choice but to issue a summons for the records that they say they want to review before interviewing additional witnesses.

“I would hope that we wouldn’t have to compel them to comply, but more and more evidence would suggest that compelling them to deliver documents may be our only recourse,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told The Hill.

“He’s a cautious guy, so to get to this point ought to tell you something,” Gowdy said Tuesday, referring to Goodlatte.

A spokesperson for the chairman declined to comment on the timeline.

“No news yet,” Goodlatte said Tuesday, before heading into the House chamber.

Since launching the investigation in late October, the committee has interviewed two FBI officials as part of the probe.

Gowdy insisted Monday that the subpoena decision was up to Goodlatte, saying that he has allowed the veteran lawmaker to take the lead.

“In my judgment, he’s the chairman of the Judiciary. He has primary jurisdiction. I’ll let him take the lead. I mean, I support them 1000 percent, but they shouldn’t need to hear from both of us,” he told The Hill.

Democrats have dismissed the joint investigation as nothing more than political theater, accusing their Republican colleagues of seeking to distract from or undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling and President Trump’s campaign.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has separately been examining the FBI and DOJ’s actions in the Clinton probe since January 2017. While Horowitz has floated March or April for his report’s release date, it’s unclear whether he’s committed to that timeline.

But GOP lawmakers are chomping at the bit to learn more about what Horowitz has uncovered regarding the private text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who disparaged then-candidate Donald Trump and other political figures during the 2016 presidential election.

The messages have become a flash point for Republicans because Strzok and Page were involved in two high-profile probes: the Clinton email investigation and the beginnings of Mueller’s Russia probe.

Strzok served as the No. 2 in the Clinton investigation, and his reported role in drafting the Clinton exoneration letter ignited an explosion of GOP scrutiny.

Both FBI officials served on Mueller’s team before an internal investigation uncovered their text messages, leading to their prompt removal from the high-profile probe that is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin, as well as other potential crimes.

But their involvement in the federal investigation sparked a new wave of Republican attacks, with GOP lawmakers accusing Mueller — who is a Republican — of assembling a team of Democrats with connections to Clinton.

Republicans have also seized on former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s role in the Clinton investigation. 

Horowitz found the former top FBI official was not forthcoming about his contacts with the media and made inappropriate disclosures to the press, reportedly about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe on Friday night, just two days before his scheduled retirement, under the advisement of an internal FBI office that handles disciplinary matters.

McCabe has strongly maintained he did nothing wrong.

McCabe has long been a GOP target, partly because of his wife’s ties to Clinton allies as well as his relationship with former FBI Director James Comey.

Trump on Twitter celebrated McCabe’s firing, calling it “a great day” for officials who work at the FBI.

Earlier this month, Goodlatte and Gowdy called for a second special counsel to investigate the bureau’s handling of the Clinton probe. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has publicly pushed back on those demands.

Tags Andrew McCabe Bob Goodlatte Clinton email investigation Donald Trump FBI Hillary Clinton House Judiciary Committee James Comey Jeff Sessions Mark Meadows Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein subpoenas Trey Gowdy
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