The FBI declined to hand over memos regarding former FBI Director James Comey’s communications with President Trump to the House Oversight Committee Thursday, citing the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
In a letter released Thursday, Assistant Director Gregory Brower, in the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs, told committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz the special counsel investigation prevents the bureau from being able to release the documents.
“In light of this development and other considerations, we are undertaking appropriate consultation to ensure all relevant interests implicated by your request are properly evaluated,” Brower wrote. “We will update this response as soon as possible.”
Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the committee, asked the FBI for any internal memos concerning contact between Trump and Comey. It’s been reported that Comey kept detailed notes of his conversations with Trump, including reported conversations when Trump asked Comey to stop investigating potential ties between his campaign and The Kremlin.
Chaffetz wrote in a response letter to Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe that his committee doesn’t want to interfere with the special counsel’s investigation. Instead, he pictures the committee’s investigation being complementary to the work that former FBI Director Robert Mueller is doing. Mueller is the special counsel who was appointed to lead the investigation.
The Utah Republican noted that Mueller’s investigation will have to take place outside of the public eye because it’s a criminal investigation. However, Chaffetz wants his to take place in public because the American people need to know the facts of the case.
Chaffetz asked the FBI to provide all communications between Comey and any White House employee, including the president and vice president, between Sept. 4, 2013, and his dismissal. He also asked to get all communications between Comey and the attorney general or deputy attorney general in that same time frame.
“I am seeking to better understand Comey’s communications with the White House and attorney general in such a way that does not implicate the special counsel’s work,” he said.
He added, “Congress and the American public have a right and a duty to examine this issue independently of the special counsel’s investigation. I trust and hope you understand this and make the right decision — to produce these documents to the committee immediately and on a voluntary basis.”