Grassley Threatens FBI With Subpoena For Russia Probe Witnesses

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Senate Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley threatened to subpoena the FBI to allow the Senate to interview witnesses in the department’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Grassley wrote a letter to deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein Wednesday to inform him that if the committee and the FBI are unable to come to a “voluntary agreement, the Committee will consider proceeding” with “drafting subpoenas to compel their testimony.”

The Judiciary Committee wants to interview executive assistant director of the National Security Branch of the FBI Carl Ghattas and Chief of Staff and senior counsel to the FBI Director James Rybicki. Grassley claims the committee requested that the pair be made available for interview on July 11.

Grassley included that the witnesses could be questioned with either “personal counsel and agency counsel” present, but “if the Committee proceeds with subpoenas, only counsel for the witness or the agency, would be allowed to be present in a compelled setting, but not for both.”

The  committee also said it would allow for both “unclassified and classified transcripts available to the witnesses for correction, and would make the classified transcript available” to the FBI for review.

The Justice Department declined the committee’s original request in July.

“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 cannot make Mr. Ghattas nor Mr. Rybicki available for transcribed interviews at this time,” according to a July letter obtained signed by acting assistant Attorney General Samuel Ramer obtained by CNN.

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