Representative Jason Chaffetz sent a letter Thursday to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) affirming Congress’ independent authority and responsibility to investigate the Comey memos. Rep. Chaffetz is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chaffetz’s letter responded to the FBI’s decision to withhold documents that the committee had requested.
Chaffetz and the committee want access to the notes, memos, recordings, and summaries so they can investigate on its own. A House Oversight memo stated that their investigation includes information that is outside of the scope of the new Special Counsel’s investigation.
The letter signed by Chaffetz says that the House committee has its own right to investigate that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The letter says that the House committee’s investigation will compliment the Special Counsel’s investigation without interfering with it. Chaffetz wrote that the House investigation would illuminate information that is exceedingly important to the public.
“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. 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.”
Oversight chair Chaffetz seeks more FBI documents in Russia probe | PBS NewsHour https://t.co/fmf7s8PqG8
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) May 25, 2017
In the letter, Chaffetz told FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe that he is trying to better understand the former FBI head’s communication with the White House and the Attorney General.
In an FBI letter to Chaffetz, the House committee was told that Chaffetz’s requests were on hold due to the appointment of the special prosecutor. Chaffetz, who recently announced that he would resign from Congress on June 30, responded promptly that the FBI has until June 8, 2017, to get the requested documents to the House Oversight Committee.
“The FBI is withholding those documents, citing to the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Prosecutor,” Chaffetz stated in the letter. “The Committee has its own, Constitutionally-based prerogative to conduct investigations. But the Committee in no way wants to impede or interfere with the Special Counsel’s ability to conduct his 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.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz: ‘Let’s see how real these memos are’ – The Washington Post https://t.co/SgYR6MTXi6
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) May 17, 2017
Chaffetz pointed out that Congress has the power and responsibility to “oversee the Executive Branch’s faithful enforcement of the laws that Congress enacted.”
“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. 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 informed the FBI that it must provide Congress with the following evidence as soon as possible, but no later than his deadline.
“1. All memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring or relating to any communication between James B. Comey and any White House employee, including the President and the Vice President, since September 4, 2013; and
“2. All memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring or relating to any communication between James B. Comey and the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General, since September 4, 2013.”
At the end of the letter to the FBI, Chaffetz further stated that “Congress and the American public have a right and a duty to examine this issue independently of the Special Counsel’s investigation,” and then added that he trusts and hopes that the FBI makes the “right decision” to produce the evidence the Oversight Committee needs on a voluntary basis. Chaffetz said that he would not hesitate to subpoena the FBI for the documents he needs.
.@GOPoversight is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists. I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) May 16, 2017
What do you think? Does Chaffetz and the House Oversight Committee have a right and a duty to see all of the FBI’s evidence that has been requested?
[Featured Image by Cliff Owen/AP Images]