Adam Schiff, DOJ strike deal on intelligence materials; enforcement action against AG Barr on hold
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff on Wednesday scrapped plans to take an enforcement action against Attorney General William P. Barr saying he has agreed to the Justice Department’s offer to access counterintelligence materials from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
Mr. Schiff had threatened to take an unspecified “enforcement action” against Mr. Barr, saying he was not complying with the panel’s subpoena for 12 categories of intelligence materials. But on Tuesday, the Department offered to make the information available if Mr. Schiff dropped his threat.
The initial document production should be completed by the end of next week, Mr. Schiff, California Democrat, said in a statement.
“The Department has repeatedly acknowledged the committee’s legitimate oversight interest in these materials,” he said. “I look forward to, and expect, continued compliance by the department so we can do our vital oversight work,” the statement continued.
Mr. Schiff said the subpoena will remain in effect and will be enforced should the Justice Department fail to comply with the document request.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Mr. Schif said it was crucial his committee access the information.
“The entire FBI probe began as a counterintelligence investigation,” he said. “We have yet to determine what that investigation found in terms of counterintelligence or even whether it is ongoing. But those findings are issues that could potentially compromise our national security.”
The truce is a win for both sides. For Mr. Barr, it shows that members of the Trump administration are willing to work with Democrats to negotiate subpoena requests. It also undercuts complaints by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, that the attorney general is refusing to hand over documents for its myriad of investigations into the president.
For Mr. Schiff the deal boosts his efforts to view parts of the Mueller report that were initially shielded from lawmakers, possibly uncovering key information. It also shows that he is willing to be patient for the tranche of documents and not jumping the gun holding administration in contempt.
Earlier this month, Mr. Schiff issued a subpoena for all of Mr. Mueller’s counterintelligence materials along with the full, unreacted report. Although the unreacted report includes grand jury information preventing its release, the Justice Department offered to start with 12 categories of counterintelligence information requested by the Committee.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a Tuesday letter to Mr. Schiff that he would make the documents available “in relatively short order,” as long as Mr. Schiff dropped his threat to hold the attorney general in contempt.
The Justice Department has fared better in its negations with the House Intelligence Committee than it has with the Judiciary Committee. Mr. Nadler issued a subpoena last month for the unredacted Mueller report, a move Mr. Barr balked at because of the grand jury information.
The Judiciary Committee earlier this month took the first step towards holding Mr. Barr in contempt of Congress and the Trump administration invoked executive privilege over the entire Mueller report.
Mr. Barr has offered select lawmakers including all members of the Intelligence Committee an opportunity to see a less-redacted version of the Mueller report. Democrats have rejected that overture saying they want to see the entire report, including the grand jury information.
Gabriella Munoz contributed to this report