House Intel panel threatens 'compulsory' action to force DOJ to produce Mueller files

House Intel panel threatens 'compulsory' action to force DOJ to produce Mueller files
© Greg Nash

The House Intelligence Committee is signaling it will soon issue a subpoena to compel the Justice Department to comply with its leaders’ request for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE’s full report and underlying evidence.

Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: YouTube disables 200+ accounts over Hong Kong misinformation | Lawmakers sound alarm over Chinese influence efforts | DHS cyber agency details priorities | State AGs get tough on robocalls | DOJ busts online scammers Nadler asks other House chairs to provide records that would help panel in making impeachment decision YouTube disables over 200 accounts amid protests in Hong Kong MORE (D-Calif.) and ranking member Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Juan Williams: Trump, his allies and the betrayal of America MORE (R-Calif.) sent two letters to the Justice Department and FBI in March and April requesting all materials obtained or produced by Mueller in the course of his investigation. They also asked for Mueller to testify before the committee.

A House Intelligence Committee aide said Tuesday that the Justice Department has not produced documents or started scheduling testimony in response to the requests and noted that the panel would “soon start the compulsory process since the Department has not even begun to comply.” 

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“The Committee has been engaged for weeks in a good faith effort to secure DOJ's cooperation with the Committee's bipartisan request for documents and testimony,” the aide said. “An accommodations process must go both ways, and the Committee will soon start the compulsory process since the Department has not even begun to comply.”

The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment.

In a rare bipartisan effort, Schiff and Nunes sent letters to the Justice Department on March 27 – before the release of Mueller’s redacted report — and again on April 25 asking that the committee be briefed by Mueller and receive all materials produced or obtained by the special counsel during the investigation.

In the April 25 letter, Schiff and Nunes wrote that it was “deeply unfortunate” that the Justice Department and FBI had failed to respond to their original request and reiterated the committee’s need for the documents as part of their oversight of the U.S. intelligence community.

“In addition to the complete unredacted report, the Committee’s request includes all classified and unclassified evidence and information obtained or generated by the Special Counsel’s Office that may relate to foreign intelligence or counterintelligence matters,” Schiff and Nunes wrote to Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFeds charge five in international ID theft ring targeting military members, veterans The road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Correctional officers subpoenaed in Epstein investigation: report MORE, Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Rosenstein10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Why the presumption of innocence doesn't apply to Trump McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing MORE and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“The fact that evidence and information may have been gathered during a criminal investigation, including through grand jury process, in no way diminishes their nature or value as foreign intelligence or counterintelligence information or the Committee’s need for them,” they wrote.

The lawmakers described their request as “unique and distinct” from that of Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, who have subpoenaed for Mueller’s full, unredacted report and underlying evidence. The Justice Department has thus far not complied with the subpoena.

On April 25, Schiff and Nunes asked that the Justice Department begin cooperating in “good faith” and threatened to begin a compulsory process on May 3 if the department did not comply with their requests beforehand.

The effort is unusual for two lawmakers who have traded barbs over the panel’s investigations into Russia's interference. As chairman, Schiff has opened a new investigation into the possibility the president is compromised by Russia or another foreign power.

Nunes and Republicans, who abruptly shuttered the panel’s original Russia probe last year, are intent on investigating whether FBI agents acted improperly in the early stages of the counterintelligence investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Olivia Beavers contributed.