President Trump and James Comey.
Carlos Barria / Reuters
The Justice Department has sent copies of former FBI Director James Comey's memos regarding his interactions with President Donald Trump to congressional leaders, officials announced in a letter on Thursday evening.
The move is the latest in a now-recurring pattern of House Republican leaders pressing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on a question of document access relating to ongoing Capitol Hill investigations, followed by ultimatums or outright threats from some of those leaders, followed by the Justice Department ultimately providing access to the document in question.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent the Thursday letter — which contained redacted versions of the memos — to members of Congress. An unredacted version of the memos, which contain classified information, will be available to members of the relevant committees on Friday, Boyd wrote.
The Justice Department provided a copy of Boyd's memo, but not the attached Comey memos, to members of the media.
The department released the memos to Reps. Robert Goodlatte, Trey Gowdy, and Devin Nunes — who had written to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on April 13 seeking the memos and writing that “[t]here is no legal basis for withholding these materials from Congress.”
The three men are the Republican chairs of the House Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, and Intelligence committees, respectively, and have been critical of Rosenstein — particularly in recent weeks as Trump's criticism of Rosenstein had risen.
Boyd addressed the “unusual” nature of the decision to release documents that are part of an ongoing investigation.
“In light of the unusual events occurring since the previous limited disclosure” — which had allowed certain members to review them and agree not to further disclose the information — “the [DOJ] has consulted the relevant parties and concluded that the release of the memoranda to Congress at this time would not adversely impact any ongoing investigation or other confidentiality interests of the Executive Branch,” Boyd wrote.
He added, however, that the move “does not alter the Department's traditional obligation to protect from public disclosure witness statements and other documents obtained during an ongoing investigation.”
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