Congress must “move quickly to hold” Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) warned on “Fox News Sunday.”
Multiple congressional committees are investigating the highly politicized inquiries by the Department of Justice and FBI concerning 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian interests.
Although the intelligence panel sent Sessions a letter seeking specified documents two weeks ago, followed by a subpoena last week, Nunes said both requests were “ignored and not acknowledged” as “per usual.”
“On Thursday, we discovered that they are not going to comply with our subpoena of very important information that we need,” Nunes said. “The only thing left to do is, we have to move quickly to hold the attorney general of the United States in contempt, and that is what I am going to press for this week.”
Because the “very important” information that congressional investigators requested from Sessions is “still classified,” Nunes noted that top DOJ officials have been using national security concerns as an excuse to withhold from the lawmakers information they are constitutionally entitled to see.
“This is the problem with a lot of this investigation: Because of the way they conducted the investigation, most of this information is classified,” Nunes lamented. “But because this is so important, I’m not going to take any excuse to say, ‘Oh, we’re harming national security.'”
“How many times have we heard that argument throughout this entire investigation? We’ve had to take people to court to get the information,” Nunes continued. “So we’re just not going to take this nonsense of every time we peel something back, every time we need information, we get ignored, we get stalled, we get stonewalled. And then, lo and behold, we get accused of ‘we’re going to destroy the nation’s ability to keep it secure.'”
Nunes said that “the next step” forward most likely will be going to court to enforce the subpoena.
“We’ve been in discussions over the weekend with our general counsel for the United States Congress,” Nunes said, noting that lawmakers went through a similar process when they held former Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in 2012.
“But I think this is going to be a much different case where I can’t imagine that the Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to defend not providing pertinent documents, very important documents to Congress,” Nunes said.
But the bottom line, said Nunes, is that this pattern of behavior can’t continue.
“This just can’t continue where we don’t get information in a timely manner. Like I said, everything we’ve tried to get, they tried to stop us from getting,” Nunes said.
“There is a very small apparatus in the Congress in our country that holds the check-and-balance authority between Congress and the executive branch,” Nunes added. “We continue to peel the onion back.”