GOP senators want invite to Justice Department meeting on classified information

Three senators on the Judiciary Committee are trying to get an invite to Thursday's meeting with House Intelligence C...

Posted: May 23, 2018 6:50 PM
Updated: May 23, 2018 6:50 PM

Three senators on the Judiciary Committee are trying to get an invite to Thursday's meeting with House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy about documents related to a classified intelligence source and the Russia investigation.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn sent a letter Tuesday to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asking to also attend a meeting to receive the same information as their House counterparts.

"On Sunday, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein stated, 'If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.' We agree," the senators wrote. "We write to express our interest in attending such a meeting and in support of providing Congress with documents necessary to conduct oversight of these issues."

Kelly arranged the Thursday meeting for Nunes and Gowdy with FBI Director Chris Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan, in an effort to end the standoff between the Republican lawmakers and the Justice Department.

Nunes issued a subpoena for documents related to the confidential source, but the Justice Department has said that revealing the information could put lives at risk.

The news about a confidential source speaking with members of President Donald Trump's team during the campaign, however, has fueled accusations from Trump and others that the FBI was spying on the Trump campaign, although US officials have told CNN the confidential source was not planted inside the campaign to provide information.

On Wednesday, Grassley said he would go to the meeting if he was invited.

"If I'm invited, I'll go, and if I don't, I'll be satisfied that the information ... ought to be made public," Grassley said. "What they need to know and what can be made public ought to be made public, but obviously we're not going to make public anything that violates national security."

The upcoming meeting has been a source of tension on Capitol Hill after Democrats, such as House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff of California, were not invited to join their Republican counterparts at Thursday's meeting.

"It's inconceivable that the White House could expect that they can brief only Republicans on anything related to the Russia investigation. That can't happen," Schiff told CNN.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he and Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, previously declined a similar briefing for information about the confidential source. Warner argued that the disclosure of such classified information to Congress should be restricted to the "Gang of Eight" - the chairmen and top Democrats on the two Intelligence Committees and the four House and Senate party leaders.

"If this kind of discussion is going to take place, we have a process - it's called the Gang of Eight," Warner said Wednesday. "My hope is that any such briefing needs to bipartisan, and my hope and prayer is that the FBI or the Department of Justice would not in any way be forced to reveal confidential information that would go against 75 years of practice."

Burr has declined comment on the confidential source and the upcoming meeting with House Republicans.

Asked Wednesday why he wanted to be briefed on the confidential source documents when Burr had declined, Cornyn said: "Oversight."

Both Grassley, on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Nunes, on the House Intelligence Committee, have pursued investigations that have been critical of the opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia written by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. They have also focused on the start of the Trump-Russia investigation in July 2016, including the latest request for documents on the confidential intelligence source.

But Grassley does not have the same subpoena power as Nunes, as the Senate Judiciary Committee requires the consent of top Democrat on the panel, Dianne Feinstein of California, to issue subpoenas.

That hasn't necessarily stopped Grassley from getting the same information, however. In a separate letter sent to Rosenstein on Monday, Grassley reminded Rosenstein that he had "personally assured me that the Senate Judiciary Committee would receive access to the same information provided to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1112735

Reported Deaths: 17652
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1450832237
Lake721711247
Allen66684881
Hamilton50838487
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Elkhart40079546
Vanderburgh34553496
Tippecanoe30654274
Johnson27559465
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Porter25556386
Madison21002452
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Grant11901242
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Marshall9062147
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Gibson7074118
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Union121016
Ohio92113
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1708292

Reported Deaths: 26587
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1785651827
Cuyahoga1669492640
Hamilton1132851528
Montgomery801921395
Summit715401199
Lucas627081020
Butler56598805
Stark535121171
Lorain41895642
Warren35785412
Mahoning35635771
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Clermont31120363
Trumbull27130616
Delaware27046182
Licking26528336
Medina25825351
Fairfield24511287
Greene24265372
Clark21980387
Portage21117281
Richland20947340
Wood20015246
Allen18870320
Miami17196348
Columbiana16795332
Muskingum16644206
Wayne15664306
Tuscarawas14329360
Marion13250194
Ashtabula12618232
Erie12602198
Scioto12416184
Pickaway12208153
Ross11639225
Hancock11448173
Geauga10863175
Lawrence10617172
Belmont10416234
Huron9765158
Jefferson9601227
Union954075
Sandusky9272166
Seneca8853157
Knox8761170
Washington8675158
Darke8365180
Athens835396
Ashland7956149
Auglaize7897117
Shelby7459133
Defiance7331115
Crawford7233150
Fulton7167112
Brown7135115
Logan6975108
Guernsey691484
Mercer689998
Highland6718119
Clinton6493106
Madison648089
Williams645199
Preble6243140
Putnam6220120
Jackson578896
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Perry564979
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Ottawa561999
Morrow515264
Fayette492170
Hardin485999
Gallia469678
Van Wert465693
Pike463476
Adams4569109
Henry432378
Hocking407193
Holmes3989140
Wyandot374973
Carroll363978
Paulding323851
Meigs304959
Monroe235561
Noble219647
Morgan215238
Harrison210953
Vinton186937
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