Following a report yesterday on the lack of information sharing between the House, Senate, and special counsel probes into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday submitted a formal subpoena to the Justice department and FBI for documents in the Trump dossier they have been unable to obtain.
The committee reportedly submitted the subpoenas back on Aug. 24, giving the Justice Department and FBI until last Friday, Sep. 1, to turn over the information. Now that the two bodies have not been forthcoming with the documents requested, the committee has given them an extension until Sep. 14.
Illustrating the near breaking point that tensions have reached between investigations, the committee also issued two subsequent subpoenas on Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray, asking them to testify before the committee, explaining the lack of cooperation.
The committee feels that they haven’t been given what they need to hold up their end of the investigative bargain.
“We got nothing,” said committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who is taking a leading role in the Russia investigation. “The witnesses have not been produced and the documents have not been produced.”
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Gowdy said that the FBI has claimed they need more time to hand over the documents and that doing so may interfere with the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. But Gowdy said the House panel isn’t playing around.
“A subpoena is a tool of last resort in Congress,” Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, said.
The documents in question are also being searched out by the Senate panel. The congressional bodies believe special counsel Robert Mueller may have used the documents, unverified and possibly from paid informants, as evidence to obtain a search warrant for the Russia probe.
“I want to know the extent to which it was relied upon, if at all, by any of our intelligence agencies or federal law enforcement agencies,” Gowdy said, “and to the extent it was relied upon, how did they vet, or either corroborate or contradict, the information in it?”
The committees believe that understanding the dossier, compiled by a former British spy, and how it came to be in the hands of the FBI is imperative. This dossier is the essential origin of the entire Russia probe.
“Several of our lines of questions centered on the dossier, or, if you don’t like the word ‘dossier,’ just insert ‘the origin of the Russia investigation,'” said Gowdy.
Gowdy feels Congress is the ultimate law of the land.
“Congress created the FBI, we created the Department of Justice, we’re the ones who passed the laws that set the boundaries of their jurisdiction, and we’re the ones that fund them,” Gowdy noted. “It is not illegitimate for us to ask what prompted this investigation, and it is certainly not illegitimate for us to test and probe the reliability of that underlying information, particularly if, in theory, there are either charging decisions and/or court filings that relied upon that information.”
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