The House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed the Justice Department and the FBI for documents related to a dossier of salacious allegations involving President Donald Trump and possible ties to Russia.
In a Sept. 1 letter to the Justice Department obtained by The Associated Press, the committee wrote that it had served subpoenas on Aug. 24 to the department and the FBI for documents related to the panel's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The department and the agency had missed the original Sept. 1 deadline, so the panel extended the deadline to Sept. 14.
The letter is signed by committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who stepped back from the Russia investigation earlier this year after he was criticized for being too close to the White House. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, took over the leading role, but his name does not appear on the letter. As chairman, Nunes retains subpoena power in the committee.
According to the letter, the original subpoenas requested any documents related to the dossier and sought information about whether the department was involved in its production.
If the documents are not produced, the committee is seeking to compel Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray to testify in an open hearing. The panel issued two additional subpoenas to Sessions and Wray late Tuesday to underscore its seriousness on the matter.
"Resort to compulsory process was necessary because of DOJ's and FBI's insufficient responsiveness to the committee's numerous Russia-investigation related requests over the past several months," the letter says.
If the committee is unable to obtain documents or testimony, Nunes writes, the committee "expressly reserves its right to proceed with any and all available legal options," including a House vote to hold Sessions and Wray in contempt.
The dossier attracted public attention in January when it was revealed that FBI Director James Comey had briefed Trump, soon before he was inaugurated as president, about claims from the documents that Russia had amassed compromising personal and financial allegations about him. It's unclear to what extent the allegations in the dossier have been corroborated or verified by the FBI since the bureau has not publicly discussed it.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, said on MSNBC Tuesday evening that the subpoenas were issued over the objections of Democrats. Schiff said Republicans are working harder to discredit those who compiled the dossier than to find out if the allegations in it are true. He said Republicans should be more focused on getting documents from the White House.
"It was uncalled for in my view," Schiff said.
The subpoenas were first reported by the Washington Examiner.