Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will recommend that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence open an internal investigation of its Republican staffers following a damning new report from Fox News, a Department of Justice official said Tuesday.
“[Rosenstein] will request that the House General counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers’ conduct,” the official told Fox News.
The statement was included in a report alleging that Rosenstein threatened to subpoena Republican staffers on the House panel during a closed-door meeting in January 2018. (RELATED: Nunes Accuses DOJ Of ‘Obstruction’ In Battle Over ‘Spygate’ Files)
One staffer wrote in an email at the time that Rosenstein issued a “not-so-veiled threat to unleash the full prosecutorial power of the state against us.”
Another committee investigator, Kash Patel, wrote in an email that Rosenstein suggested that the Justice Department “will subpoena your records and your emails.”
The Fox News report comes as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is battling Rosenstein and FBI officials over documents related to an FBI informant that was used to spy on several Trump campaign advisers.
Nunes and Rosenstein have battled before over documents related to the infamous Steele dossier as well as the FBI and Justice Department’s applications for secret surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
A Justice Department official denied the allegations Patel made and the other Intelligence Committee staffer. Rosenstein “never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation,” the official told Fox News.
They said Rosenstein referred to subpoenas only after being threatened with contempt of Congress.
Rosenstein argued that “as an American citizen charged with the offense of contempt of Congress, he would have the right to defend himself, including requesting production of relevant emails and text messages and calling them as witnesses to demonstrate that their allegations are false,” the DOJ official said.
“That is why he put them on notice to retain relevant emails and text messages, and he hopes they did so. (We have no process to obtain such records without congressional approval.)”
Rosenstein “never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation,” the official continued.
“The FBI Director, the senior career ethics adviser for the Department, and the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs who were all present at this meeting are all quite clear that the characterization of events laid out here is false.”
Rosenstein will recommend that the House Intelligence Committee open an internal investigation after he returns back to the U.S. from an overseas work trip, according to Fox.
One source familiar with the situation says that Rosenstein’s decision to recommend a committee investigation is retribution for the Fox News article.
“The new threat from Rosenstein to complain to House general counsel about a months old meeting makes no sense except as retaliation for this story getting out,” the source told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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