House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Sunday that he won’t meet with the Justice Department until he is handed documents related to a confidential FBI source who spoke with Trump campaign aides in 2016 about Russian interference in the election.
Nunes also pointed to reports Friday that the FBI’s confidential source spoke with at least two advisers to President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign about its possible ties to Russia as a reason for his position, accusing someone within the department of leaking the information after he and South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy didn’t take Justice officials up on their most recent offer to answer the lawmakers’ questions in a briefing.
Earlier this month, Nunes threatened to hold Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress if they don’t release documents related to the source that he has subpoenaed.
To quell rising tensions, officials briefed Nunes and South Carolina Republican Rep. Gowdy a couple of weeks ago in a meeting the lawmakers later called “productive.” The department then offered to brief Nunes and Gowdy on Friday with the understanding that certain questions remained outstanding from a previous briefing, but the invitation went unanswered, CNN has reported.
“Now if you look at what happened on Friday night, probably the mother of all leaks, of all time, to two major newspapers, that came out Friday night. Now, had Mr. Gowdy and I went to that meeting, you can bet they would have tried to pin that on us,” Nunes, R-California, told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“We had what I thought was a productive meeting, and then, after that meeting, they’ve done nothing but leak and leak and leak,” he continued. “Now, we don’t know exactly who it is over at the Department of Justice or the FBI. I’m not pinning any blame on people. But we’re not going to go to another meeting where we don’t get documents and then the meeting leaks out.”
Nunes told Fox News that he and Gowdy refused to do the briefing after being told they would not get the documents they are seeking.
“They were trying to get Mr. Gowdy and I to go the Department of Justice for, supposedly, another briefing. We said, look, unless we’re going to get documents, we found out Thursday night, they were not going to provide documents, so therefore, we’re not going to go,” Nunes said on Sunday.
The Justice Department and the California Republican have been down this road before. CNN reported earlier this month that Nunes threatened to hold Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress on several occasions for failing to turn over sensitive documents related to the Russia investigation only to not read the materials once they were made available to him.
Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told The Wall Street Journal on Saturday that federal prosecutors would need to make clear the role played by the confidential source and whether the person had compiled any “incriminating information” about Trump’s associates before the President would agree to any interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. Otherwise, Giuliani said, Trump could be “walking into a trap.”
Although Trump has suggested the FBI’s confidential intelligence source was embedded in his campaign, US officials have told CNN that was not the case.
The officials say that the identity of the source had been closely held at the highest levels of the FBI and intelligence community, and the individual has been a source for the FBI and CIA for years.
Officials from the Justice Department, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence have maintained that turning over that information Nunes has requested on the individual would pose a grave risk to the source’s life.