DOJ to make Comey memos available to Congress after subpoena threat: Sources

PHOTO: Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "Russian Federation Efforts to Interfere in the 2016 U.S. Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2017.PlayJonathan Ernst/Reuters, FILE
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The Justice Department will make former FBI director James Comey's memos detailing his interactions with President Donald Trump available to three congressional committees as early as Thursday, two sources tell ABC News.

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The Republican chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Judiciary committees requested copies of the memos in both redacted and de-classified/un-redacted form last week. On Monday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein requested more time to fulfill the request, citing department rules regarding the handling of memos with classified information or pertaining to ongoing criminal investigations.

It's unclear what form of the memos lawmakers will have access to.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said the move by DOJ to share the memos tied to an ongoing investigation to Congress was "relatively rare" but "entirely appropriate."

"Congress has a legitimate interest of oversight in the memos," he said in an email.

The former FBI director shared unclassified versions of several memos with a friend, who then read the contents of one memo - detailing Trump's conversation with Comey about ending the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn - to a New York Times reporter.

"It is certainly true that most such requests in the past have been declined," Turley said. "However, Comey already released some of these memos to a third party."

The memos have not been previously available to the full membership of the three committees - and have only been reviewed by a select number of lawmakers and aides. Republicans have suggested that they want to make the memos - a central part of the investigation surrounding Trump's firing of Comey and questions of potential obstruction of justice - available to the public.

PHOTO: Former FBI Director James Comey takes the oath before he testifies during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 8, 2017. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Former FBI Director James Comey takes the oath before he testifies during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 8, 2017.

Comey, in an interview with CNN Thursday, said the release of his memos to Congress is "fine by me."

"I don't have any -- I don't have any views on it. I'm totally fine with transparency. I've tried to be transparent throughout this, and I think what folks will see if they get to see the memos, is I've been consistent since the very beginning, right after my encounters with President Trump, and I'm consistent in the book and try to be transparent in the book as well," he said.

Republicans have been critical of Rosenstein and DOJ's production of documents to Capitol Hill, as they continue to investigate the FBI's handling of the Clinton and Russia investigations.

Democrats have accused Republicans of providing Trump a pretext for eventually firing or removing Rosenstein, who supervises special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

On Wednesday, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said that chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., had notified him of plans to subpoena DOJ for the memos. A spokesperson for Goodlatte has not responded to requests for comment.

Earlier this week, two House conservatives and Trump allies, Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, met with Rosenstein to press him on the pace of document production, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

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