(Bloomberg) -- The Justice Department has agreed to begin turning over some counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials uncovered in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to House lawmakers, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said.
Schiff said in a statement Wednesday that the department has offered to start turning over 12 categories of information that his panel had subpoenaed, and he said the process should be completed by next week. He canceled a meeting where the committee was to consider unspecified action against Justice for defying the subpoena.
It was a rare instance of cooperation as the Trump administration increasingly stonewalls demands from Democratic-controlled House committees for documents and testimony to follow up on Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The White House also has asserted executive privilege in resisting congressional demands for Mueller’s full report without redactions and the underlying evidence.
“The committee’s subpoena will remain in effect, and will be enforced should the department fail to comply with the full document request,” Schiff said in the statement. “The department has repeatedly acknowledged the committee’s legitimate oversight interest in these materials. I look forward to, and expect, continued compliance by the Department so we can do our vital oversight work.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing increasing pressure from her party’s lawmakers to initiate impeachment proceedings, a move she’s resisted. House Democrats are also pressing for Mueller to testify, but the special counsel is balking at appearing publicly before Congress, pushing for a closed-door appearance, according to three people familiar with the special counsel’s position.
Schiff said Mueller should appear before his panel and the House Judiciary Committee, with as much of his testimony in public as possible. He said it’s important that the Justice Department not try “to censor” what Mueller can say.
Schiff announced last week that the Justice Department has ignored a subpoena for "counterintelligence and foreign intelligence" material produced in Mueller’s investigation. “The long and short of it was the deadline came and went without the production of any documents,” he said.
Schiff had issued a subpoena for the material the week before, giving the department a deadline it didn’t meet. Schiff then told reporters that unless the department responded, the committee would move forward "reluctantly" with consideration of some type of enforcement action, which he said would be done in consultation with the House’s general counsel.
The California Democrat wouldn’t specify what that litigation strategy might be, saying it would decided by the committee in a closed-door meeting. But he said it would be designed to force the department to meet its "legal commitment.”
Schiff had issued that subpoena after the Justice Department didn’t respond to earlier bipartisan requests from him and the panel’s top Republican Devin Nunes, also of California, to turn over the documents voluntarily. Schiff said he then had "no choice" but to issue a subpoena to force compliance. Those efforts by Schiff and Nunes to obtain the materials were a rare showing of bipartisanship, though Nunes didn’t join in on the subpoena.
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