House Intel postpones enforcement action after DOJ offer to share some Mueller files

House Intel postpones enforcement action after DOJ offer to share some Mueller files

The House Intelligence Committee is postponing a vote to enforce a subpoena for Attorney General William BarrBill BarrHolding defiant Trump witnesses to account, Jan. 6 committee carries out Congress's constitutional role Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official Appeals court questions Biden DOJ stance on Trump obstruction memo MORE after the Justice Department agreed to begin producing some of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate 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 MORE's files. 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement that a committee business meeting Wednesday to vote on what he has described as an “enforcement action” has been canceled and that he expected the Justice Department to begin producing the foreign intelligence and counterintelligence documents by the end of the week.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The Department of Justice has accepted our offer of a first step towards compliance with our subpoena, and this week will begin turning over to the Committee twelve categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials as part of an initial rolling production,” Schiff said. “That initial production should be completed by the end of next week." 

"As a result of the Department's acceptance, the business meeting has been postponed. The Committee's subpoena will remain in effect, and will be enforced should the Department fail to comply with the full document request,” Schiff said.

In response to Schiff’s decision, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said that the department appreciates “the continued dialogue” with the committee and looks forward to “working towards appropriately accommodating their requests.”

The decision comes as the Trump administration and Congress battle over a series of demands by Democrats to get paperwork and hear testimony from officials that could shed light on various controversies. 

The administration's stonewalling of the Democratic demands has led to new calls to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, something Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level MORE (D-Calif.) has resisted. The Democratic caucus is set to discuss their oversight and investigations of the administration later on Wednesday morning.

Schiff issued a subpoena for Mueller’s unredacted report, the underlying evidence, and all counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials generated in the course of the investigation on May 8, setting a May 15 deadline for the department to comply.

Last week, Schiff said that the Justice Department had not produced a single document in response to the subpoena, which he said “raised profound questions about whether the department has any intention to honor its legal obligations.” Schiff scheduled a closed-door business meeting on Wednesday morning for the committee to consider an “enforcement action” to compel the department to comply but offered no further details on what shape the action would take.

However, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote a letter to Schiff on Tuesday stating that the department is willing to “expedite” access to foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information identified as a priority if the committee confirmed that it would not move forward on the enforcement action.

Boyd warned that the department would likely cut off negotiations for the materials if the committee moved forward with a contempt citation for Barr or another such action.

“To be clear, should the Committee take the precipitous and unnecessary action of recommending a contempt finding or other enforcement action against the Attorney General, then the Department will not likely be able to continue to work with the Committee to accommodate its interests in these materials,” Boyd wrote.

“We hope that such a step will not prove necessary because there is no reason why the Department and the Committee cannot work out an accommodation that would meet both of our legitimate needs,” he wrote. 

Boyd also accused Schiff of mischaracterizing “many aspects of our prior letter and the good faith offer it set forth” in earlier correspondence.

The Justice Department had told the committee last week it would allow the full panel to review a less redacted version of the first volume of the report — the section discussing Russian interference — and identify an initial tranche of materials the committee is demanding that it would prioritize for review and disclosure.

Schiff’s committee is one of two that has subpoenaed for Mueller’s full report and related files.

The House Judiciary Committee also subpoenaed Barr to produce Mueller’s full report and underlying evidence in April and voted to hold the attorney general in contempt earlier this month after the Justice Department’s counteroffer failed to meet there demands. As a result, Barr instructed  Trump to make a “protective” assertion of executive privilege over all of the materials subpoenaed by the Judiciary committee. 

Barr has allowed a select group of lawmakers to view a less-redacted version of Mueller’s report that still restricts grand jury material provided they don’t discuss it publicly, but Democrats have rejected that offer as too limited. 

Aside from Mueller‘s report and evidence, Schiff is asking for some additional materials different than the Judiciary Committee request.

His panel is particularly interested in the files from the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference, which he argues the panel is entitled to as part of its oversight of the U.S. intelligence community.

Schiff and Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesProposed California maps put incumbents in jeopardy Devin Nunes's family ordered to reveal who is paying for defamation lawsuit Three key behind-the-scenes figures in Jan. 6 probe MORE (R-Calif.), the committee’s top Republican, made rare bipartisan requests for the materials as well as testimony from Mueller in March and April, but Schiff said earlier this month that the department rebuffed the requests, causing him to issue the subpoena.

On Wednesday, Schiff said that the Justice Department has “repeatedly acknowledged” the panel’s legitimate oversight interest in the foreign intelligence and counterintelligence files and that he looks forward to and expects the department to continue to comply with the subpoena. 

Updated at 9:06 a.m.