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House intel postpones Trump dossier hearing amid DOJ talks

House intel postpones Trump dossier hearing amid DOJ talks
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The House Intelligence Committee has postponed a quietly scheduled open hearing intended to nudge the Department of Justice into complying with a subpoena related to a controversial dossier linking President Trump to Russia.
 
Talks are ongoing between the Justice Department and the committee over what information the department will provide and how. Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is scheduled to meet with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday as part of the negotiations. 
 
A spokesman for the department told The Hill earlier in the week that it had requested that the subpoenas be placed on hold during the discussions. 
 
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The tense negotiations come at a moment of heightened friction between the Justice Department and a slate of congressional committees running investigations parallel to special counsel Bob Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the presidential election. 
 
"It would be useful if DOJ complied without any more subpoenas, hearings, or other forceful steps by the Committee, but it’s still unclear whether they will comply in that fashion," a congressional official told The Hill regarding the canceled House Intelligence Committee hearing. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyColorado governor, spouse test positive for COVID-19 McConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Rep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Iowa) on Tuesday slammed the Justice Department and the FBI for not complying with requests for two FBI agents to testify before that panel in its investigation into political interference at the bureau. 

"Why is the FBI so focused on keeping Congress in the dark?" he asked.
 
The Thursday House hearing, which the committee never publicly announced, was scheduled to cover “document production.”
 
Nunes in August issued two identical subpoenas to the Justice Department and the FBI demanding that the agencies hand over documents containing information about the dossier and the bureau’s relationship to its author, a former British spy named Christopher Steele.
 
The administration missed both the original deadline and an extended deadline Nunes granted that expired on Sept. 14. The California Republican warned in a Sept. 1 letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms MORE, reported by CNN, that the revised deadline would not be extended.

Nunes threatened in that letter to drag Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray before the committee for a public appearance “to explain under oath DOJ’s and FBI’s unwillingness or inability to comply in full with the subpoenas issued on August 24.”
 
Democrats have pushed back against the subpoenas, which 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 (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, says were issued solely by the chairman and without first making the request voluntary in written form to agencies.
 
The validity of the Steele dossier has been the subject of fierce interest in the various Capitol Hill investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. Some Republican lawmakers have zeroed in on its unverified allegations as the basis for the furor over Trump and Russia.

The 35-page document, filled with incendiary and sometimes salacious allegations about the president, was produced as opposition research into then-candidate Trump and has yet to be independently confirmed.

"I think what is really at heart is an effort to discredit Mr. Steele ... also, to put the government on trial as a way of distracting our focus from looking into what Russia did during the election," Schiff said on CBS's "Face The Nation" on Sunday.