Republican lawmakers will review classified information on FBI source Thursday, White House announces
May 22 at 4:20 PM Email the author
Just two Republican lawmakers will be allowed to review classified information about a confidential FBI source who aided the investigation into the Trump campaign at a meeting Thursday with Justice Department and intelligence officials, a White House spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced at a White House press briefing that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) would be the only two lawmakers at the meeting, which would also include FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats and Principal Deputy Attorney General Ed OâCallaghan.
Sanders said no White House officials would attend, even though Chief of Staff John F. Kelly brokered the gathering. She s aid Democrats were cut out because they had not requested the same materials that their Republican colleagues had.
âTo my knowledge, the Democrats have not requested that information, so I would refer you back to them on why they would consider themselves randomly invited to see something theyâve never asked to,â Sanders said.
The move is likely to cause significant consternation in Congress. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the intelligence committee, had said previously he was âsure that Iâll be invited to join.â A spokeswoman could not be reached for comment after Sandersâs briefing. Even some Republicans had said they saw no reason their Democratic colleagues could not attend.
âCertainly I would think you would have ranking members as well, if they wanted to view those documents,â said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who leads the conservative House Freedom Caucus, before the announcement.
[White House to convene GOP lawmakers to review classified information on FBI source]
The meeting will mark the next milestone in a long-running feud between President Trump, the Justice Department and conservative lawmakers over the FBIâs use of a confidential source in what is now special counsel Robert S. Mueller IIIâs investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia. The source, GOP veteran and former University of Cambridge professor Stefan A. Halper, had contact with at least three advisers to Trump during the campaign. Trump and his allies have sought to cast that as inappropriate political spying.
At Trumpâs direction, the Justice Department tapped its inspector general with reviewing the use of Halper, though that did little to satisfy some members of Congress who want access to documents about him and his dealings with the FBI. Justice Department officials have been reluctant to turn over the materials, though on Monday, after meeting with Trump at the Wh ite House, they reached an agreement to have another gathering where lawmakers could review information.
The dispute comes as Trump and conservative lawmakers continue to rail against the FBI, the Justice Department and Muellerâs probe. Conservative House Republicans unveiled a resolution Tuesday insisting on the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate their growing list of grievances.
âThere is a ton of evidence of real misconduct,â said Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), a member of the Freedom Caucus and the resolutionâs author.
Some conservatives are skeptical that Nunes or Gowdy will leave Thursdayâs meeting with real information. The Justice Department has in the past offered classified briefings to Nunes, though they have so far refused to turn over documents.
âWeâve been here before,â Meadows said. âAnother meeting without evidence and without actually seeing the documents is worthless.â
Meadows and others have s aid the Justice Department has been unconscionably slow to furnish records related to the FBIâs scrutiny of Trumpâs campaign, even under subpoena. They are now contemplating contempt and impeachment proceedings for Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees Muellerâs probe, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) went one step further at a Tuesday news conference, calling on the president to orchestrate Muellerâs termination.
âNobody needs firing more than Robert Mueller,â Gohmert said, addressing Trump in absentia. âBut you canât be the one to fire him, because weâve got some weak-kneed Republicans out there who will come after you for firing the guy who needed firing.â
Not all Republicans are on board with conservative House membersâ calls for a second special counsel â" or with the allegations that Trumpâs campaign was the target of a spying operation.
Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.), a senio r member of the Intelligence Committee, said that he believed Nunes and Gowdyâs meeting with senior Justice Department officials would help put to rest some of the circulating concerns and return lawmakersâ focus to the matter of election security.
âI think weâre going to come out of this meeting feeling a little bit better about where we are,â said Rooney, who has not supported calls for a second special counsel in the past. âThe questions that are out there will hopefully be satisfied, and we can move on to that basic underlying question of what do we need to do to protect the sanctity of our ballots.â
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has also not promised the conservative Republicans pushing for a vote on their resolution that he will give it time on the floor. A spokeswoman for Ryan did not immediately respond to a request seeking clarity on Ryanâs plans.Source: Google News