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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) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s full report and underlying evidence.

Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says DOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Sights and sounds from Biden's UK visit MORE (D-Calif.) and ranking member Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesCNN reporter's phone and email records secretly obtained by Trump administration: report Hillicon Valley: Colonial Pipeline CEO says company paid hackers .4 million in ransomware attack | Facebook sets up 'special operations center' for content on Israeli-Palestinian conflict | Granholm expresses openness to pipeline cyber standards after Peter Thiel, J.D. Vance investing in YouTube alternative popular among conservatives 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 BarrBill BarrTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says DOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records Democrats demand Barr, Sessions testify on Apple data subpoenas MORE, Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinDemocrats claim vindication, GOP cries witch hunt as McGahn finally testifies Protect the police or the First Amendment? Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' 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.