WASHINGTON ― Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a prominent defender of President Donald Trump who has taken to threatening the Trump-appointed leadership at the Justice Department, got a meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday about his subpoena for documents that government officials reportedly worry would put a top-secret intelligence source in danger.
Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, met with Rosenstein at the Justice Department on Thursday afternoon. The issue on the table: Nunes’ request to see department documents as part of an investigation into what he alleges are abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
FBI and intelligence officials warned the White House last week that the information Nunes was seeking could put a valuable intelligence source at risk, according to The Washington Post. The source has reportedly provided information to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told HuffPost that Nunes and Gowdy ― as well as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member on the intelligence committee ― had been invited to department headquarters to discuss the matter on Thursday. She said Justice officials were willing to consider ways to accommodate the inquiry into information as it relates to that source.
Nunes has threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is recused from the Russia investigation, in contempt of Congress if the Justice Department fails to hand over the materials. He’d previously threatened to impeach Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray unless he got cooperation from the Justice Department. All three men are Republicans nominated to their current positions by Trump.
In a statement after their meeting, Nunes and Gowdy said that they had a “productive discussion” with FBI, DOJ and Office of the Director of National Intelligence officials and that the officials “committed to holding further discussions of these matters” next week.
It’s unclear how this will end. Nunes now has the backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who told reporters that the latest request was “wholly appropriate” and “completely within the scope of the investigation that has been going on a while with respect to FISA.”
Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation, is in a precarious position. The longtime Republican, who has come under repeated fire from Trump, has recently taken pains to praise the president’s approach to law and order.
But in a fiery comment last week responding to news that a group of conservative lawmakers had drafted articles of impeachment against him, Rosenstein declared that the Justice Department would “not be extorted.”
Certain unnamed people, Rosenstein said, “have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time.” The Justice Department, he said, would “do what’s required by the rule of law, and any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job.”
Ryan Reilly is HuffPost’s senior justice reporter, covering the Justice Department, federal law enforcement, criminal justice and legal affairs. Have a tip? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Signal at 202-527-9261.