Justice Department Denies Senate Request For FBI Interviews, Citing Special Counsel

Justice Department Denies Senate Request For FBI Interviews, Citing Special Counsel

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating allegations that President Trump committed obstruction of justice by firing Comey after he refused to back off an investigation.

"Under these circumstances and consistent with the Department's long-standing policy regarding the confidentiality and sensitivity of information relating to pending matters, the Department can not make Mr. Ghattas nor Mr. Rybicki available for transcribed interviews at this time", according to a July letter signed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Samuel Ramer, which was reviewed by CNN.

Sanders clarified that The White House is not directly ordering or encouraging the Department of Justice to proceed with an investigation.

As CNSNews.com previously reported, Sanders said Monday that the president was justified in firing Comey.

In late August, the leaders of the committee modified their request, hoping to reach an accommodation with the department.

That the DOJ cited Mueller and the Russian Federation investigation when it declined the committee's requests to interview Ghattas and Rybicki indicated to legal experts that the FBI doesn't want its own probe of the circumstances surrounding Comey's firing to be compromised by Congress.

The committee, however, has not been able to interview those witnesses, despite asking that to happen by September 1.

"I don't think there's any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel, yes", Bannon said.

The DOJ seemed to cite concerns about interfering with the ongoing special counsel probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. "The White House uses "leaking of information" as a throw-away line but it has a legal definition and Jim Comey did not violate the law based upon telling others what the president said to him".

A spokesman for Mueller declined comment for this story.

While she contended that the president has been fully vindicated in his decision to fire Comey in May, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stopped short of recommending that the Justice Department prosecute the former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief.

Law did not specify which "fact" affirmed the "rightness" of Trump's decision, nor did he challenge the assertion that Comey's firing led to the appointment of Mueller. "Mueller has got material on them and he is going after them".

The claims, which emerged in interviews by the Office of Special Counsel and were disclosed by members of the Judiciary Committee, prompted some GOP lawmakers to question Comey's past statements to Congress.

The challenges in obtaining the transcript is one reason why Mueller's team has communicated to some on Capitol Hill that it would like key witnesses to testify in public, rather than behind closed doors. But Grassley so far has been non-committal about a public session. "Feinstein about that, and make a decision after we talk to her", Grassley told CNN Tuesday.

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