FBI deflects House Oversight Committee's request for documents
The bureau cited the appointment of a special counsel for the delay.
The FBI responded to Chaffetz in a letter Thursday citing Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel in the bureau’s investigation of Russia as justification to delay fulfilling the committee’s request.
"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," wrote Gregory Brower, assistant director of the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs.
Chaffetz responded to Brower’s letter, emphasizing his panel "has its own, Constitutionally-based prerogative to conduct investigations” and that it’s not his intent to "impede or interfere" with Mueller’s investigation.
"In fact, the Committee's investigation will complement the work of the Special Counsel. Whereas the Special Counsel is conducting a criminal or counterintelligence investigation that will occur largely behind closed doors, the Committee's work will shed light on matters of high public interest, regardless of whether there is evidence of criminal conduct," Chaffetz wrote.
"In this case, the focus of the Committee's investigation is the independence of the FBI, including conversations between the President and Comey and the process by which Comey was removed from his role as director," he continued. "The records being withheld are central to those questions, even more so in light of Comey's decision not to testify before the Committee at this time."
Chaffetz makes a new request for documents “outside the scope” of Mueller’s investigation “as soon as possible, but no later than June 8, 2017.”
Those documents include all memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring or relating to any communication between Comey and any White House employee, including the president and the vice president, ranging back to Comey's first day in September 2013, as well as between Comey and the attorney general or deputy attorney general.
Chaffetz further requests that the FBI identify all responsive documents, regardless of whether the document is within the scope of the special counsel's investigation.
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