VOTE ON CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS MAY ALSO BE CONSIDERED
by Sharon Rondeau
Although the documents are classified, Nunes said, he is not willing to accept that from the Justice Department as a defense for their non-production. “I’m not going to take any excuse to say, ‘Oh, we’re harming national security. How many times have we heard that argument throughout this entire investigation?…'” Nunes said, referring to other instances where the committee was stymied from obtaining documentation in connection with the “Russia” investigation and “FISA abuse” alleged against some in the FBI and DOJ.
The most recent request sent to Justice, Nunes said, was for documentation showing how and why a counterintelligence investigation was launched into the Trump campaign in July 2016. He said that the committee’s initial request was ignored by Justice, as was a subpoena sent last week to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
When Henry asked Nunes what the next step might be in obtaining the documents, Nunes responded that Congress could vote to file suit against the Department in federal court and hold Sessions in contempt of Congress. Nunes insisted, however, that Congress should not have take legal action to obtain documents he said are associated with Congress’s oversight of executive-branch agencies.
“Walk us through what you’re actually going to do about it,” Henry said, to which Nunes responded, “So the next step this week is we will probably have to go to court to enforce this subpoena. So we’ve been in discussions with our general counsel for the United States Congress. We did this with Lois Lerner and with Attorney General Holder,” he said, referring to the former IRS supervisor who admitted to “targeting” groups applying for tax-exempt status for political reasons beginning in 2011 and to Obama’s first attorney general, Eric Holder, who in 2012 withheld documents from Congress connected to the gunrunning operation Fast & Furious, claiming “executive privilege” on behalf of Obama.
At present, Nunes said, “I don’t know that the attorney general is even aware of our request,” adding that he would first opt to “talk to the attorney general to make sure he understands the significance of this request” before taking either of the two possible actions discussed.