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 MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report MORE’s full report and underlying evidence.

Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff would support impeachment if White House ignores a final court decision on documents, testimony US finds itself isolated in Iran conflict House Intelligence Committee to subpoena Trump associate Felix Sater MORE (D-Calif.) and ranking member 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 Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing Intel hearing showcases political divide over Mueller report 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 BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Supreme Court set to deliver ruling on census citizenship question Trump: 'I think I win the election easier' if Democrats launch impeachment proceedings MORE, Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake 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 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.