House Passes Demand to See FBI Records on Russia Probe

WASHINGTON (CN) – After a morning of raucous, partisan speeches, the House voted along party lines Thursday to access sensitive FBI documents on the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“This is real simple, real simple,” said Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican. “It’s about our branch of government, the legislative branch getting the information we’re entitled to get to do our constitutional duty of oversight.”

Representative Adam Schiff meanwhile called the resolution “collaboration masquerading as oversight.”

“Wake up, my colleagues, and do your jobs,” the California Democrat said. “Wake up and end this duplicitous attack on the Department of Justice, the FBI and the special counsel.”

The resolution, which passed 226 to 183 along party lines, sets a deadline of July 6 for the Department of Justice to comply with several subpoenas and document-production requests from members of the House intelligence and judiciary committees.

Being pushed by House allies of President Trump, the resolution calls on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to hand over all documents and communications reflecting “requests to review, scrub, report on, or analyze any reporting of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act collection involving” Trump campaign officials or members of the Trump administration.

It also calls for documents related to defensive briefings given to the Hillary Clinton and Trump campaigns, along with records concerning Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act coverage of the Clinton Foundation.

But Democrats say many of the documents go to the heart of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference and possible coordination by Trump campaign officials with that effort.

Revealing them would expose sources and methods and compromise the investigation, said Representative Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat.

“These documents should not be turned over,” Cohen said ahead of Thursday’s vote.

Schiff made similar points, saying the end goal is “to give the dear president a pretext to fire Rod Rosenstein or Bob Mueller.”

Republicans have accused the Department of Justice of hiding documents and refusing to cooperate with their subpoena authority.

Ahead of the vote, Representative Mark Meadows denied that the resolution calls for the FBI to expose sources and methods, insisting the move is intended to promote transparency he thinks will clear the president.

“When we get these documents we believe that it will do away with this whole fiasco of what they call the Russia-Trump collusion, because there wasn’t any,” said Meadows, a North Carolina Republican.

Congressional Democrats fear that once House Republicans get a hold of the information, they’ll turn it over to the president’s legal team, after which it could be leaked to the public.

On Thursday Democrats made public a letter they sent a day earlier to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Rosenstein, urging them not to bend to Republican pressure.

The letter, signed by Represtatives Nancy Pelosi and Schiff and Senators Chuck Schumer and Mark Warner, cautions against turning over sensitive investigative materials.

“With every disclosure, DOJ and FBI are reinforcing a precedent it will have to uphold, whether the Congress is in Republican or Democratic hands, of providing materials in pending or closed cases to the legislative branch upon request,” the 3-page letter says.

Pelosi mentioned the letter on the House floor ahead of the vote, warning that the resolution is breaching “dangerous territory.”

“If the Democrats were in power I would say the same thing,” Pelosi said. “We wouldn’t want to have this access, you shouldn’t have this access. This is wrong.”

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