White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy will meet with senior Justice Department, FBI and intelligence officials on Thursday about the lawmakers' document request related to a confidential intelligence source.
Sanders said that Nunes and Gowdy, both Republicans, would attend the meeting with FBI Director Chris Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan. No White House staff will attend, Sanders said, and no Democrats were invited either.
The meeting could resolve a contentious fight between Nunes and House Republicans with the Justice Department over his subpoena for documents related to a confidential source that met with members of the Trump campaign. President Donald Trump and some conservatives have claimed that the FBI may have been spying on the campaign and have demanded investigations into the matter.
Sanders said that no Democrats were attending the meeting because they did not ask to attend. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, on Monday called for any meeting on documents related to the confidential source to be bipartisan.
"For every Republican at the table, there should be the Democratic counterpart," Schumer said Tuesday. "If Chairman Nunes is there, (top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee Adam) Schiff should be there. If Sen. (Chuck) Grassley is there, Sen. (Dianne) Feinstein should be there. It should be bipartisan."
Schiff said on Monday that he did expect to be included in the meeting. Asked if he would take part, he told CNN: "I presume I am, but I don't know exactly what they have in mind."
Previously, Schiff has received a separate briefing from Nunes and Gowdy at the Justice Department around the same time frame.
Trump tasked chief of staff John Kelly with arranging the briefing during a meeting Monday with Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has previously briefed lawmakers when they've subpoenaed sensitive Justice Department and FBI documents.
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that he and Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, have rejected an invitation to attend a previous similar briefing because of concerns of the sensitivity of the issues involving a confidential source.
"Chairman Burr and I have been pretty clear that we don't think that information should even be shared with us," Warner said Tuesday. "We've turned down the opportunity to have that kind of briefing, because, because of the threat of leaking. Because there are other bodies on the Hill that get information, and very quickly afterwards that information appears in the press. We wanted to make sure that weren't going to be subject to any, even those kind of allegations."
Indeed, Senate Republicans appear to have little desire to seize on the fight launched by Nunes and Trump, eager to stay away from the explosive fight.
Burr declined to comment on the matter, as did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
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