GOP chairmen extend deadline for DOJ decision to turn over 'Comey memos'

GOP chairmen extend deadline for DOJ decision to turn over 'Comey memos'
© Greg Nash

Three GOP House chairmen have given the Department of Justice (DOJ) an extension to decide whether it will provide lawmakers with access to former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyIntel chairman says FBI starting to answer questions on Russia probe Intel chairman says FBI starting to answer questions on Russia probe Want the truth? Put your money on Bill Barr, not Jerry Nadler MORE's memos.

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Trump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Trump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon MORE asked the three House lawmakers — Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling MORE (R-Va.), Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyOur sad reality: Donald Trump is no Eisenhower GOP takes aim at Comey, Brennan House Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report MORE (R-S.C.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing MORE (R-Calif.) — to give him extra time to decide on the matter, a Gowdy aide confirmed on Tuesday.

The lawmakers initially asked Rosenstein last Friday to provide an answer about granting access by Monday.

Rosenstein told lawmakers he is “consulting with the relevant parties” because the Comey memos may relate to an “ongoing investigation,” contain confidential information and "report confidential presidential communications" so they have a "legal a duty to evaluate the consequences of providing access to them," according to review of the letter by The Hill.

Lawmakers suggested the relevant parties could mean both the White House and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE's team need to be consulted.

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“I think they are trying to, in my understanding, check with all of the appropriate stakeholders because it is not just the FBI and DOJ. It would be the White House — a number of other entities that have to sign off,” Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsFBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway FBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump MORE (R-N.C.), a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told The Hill on Tuesday.

The lawmakers are looking to view the memos Comey wrote to document his meetings with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' MORE, who he claims made a series of inappropriate requests while he served as FBI director.  

Politico first reported the extension. During a testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last year, Comey said Trump asked him to take a loyalty pledge as he was leading the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He also said the president asked him to drop his probe into former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who misled investigators about his communications with a top Russian diplomat. 

Comey said these requests made him feel uncomfortable, compelling him to write down his personal recollections of the exchanges. 

Comey shared some contents of at least one memo with a friend, who then leaked them to the press in an effort to prompt the appointment of a special counsel. His efforts proved successful, spurring the appointment of Mueller to carry on the Russia probe.

The former FBI director has maintained that he did not leak classified information. Critics, however, dispute the claim that classified information did not make its way into the public eye.

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told Fox News on Monday that the memos may bolster Trump’s defense that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. 

The battle over the memos coincides with the release of Comey’s new book and the media blitz that has accompanied it. In the book, Comey takes personal shots at the president, remarking about his physical appearance as well as his moral character. 

Comey’s return to the spotlight has been met with a wave of criticism by those who say he is politicizing the FBI and unfairly attacking the president. 

Trump has repeatedly taken to Twitter to blast the FBI chief, whom he fired, as a leaker and a liar in response.