- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Two House Republican committee chairman are asking the Justice Department to make senior FBI officials available for interviews as early as this week to discuss the bureau’s handling of investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email server and members of Donald Trump’s campaign.

The request has touched a nerve with Democrats, who say the “emergency interviews” are more about trying to undermine the credibility of the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election than uncovering relevant information.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, sent a letter to the Department of Justice on Tuesday requesting interviews with key officials. Starting Thursday, the committee is seeking transcribed interviews with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, FBI Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki, and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

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“Among other things, the Committees are investigating the circumstances surrounding the FBI’s decision to publicly announce the investigation into former Secretary Clinton’s handling of classified information, but not to publicly announce the investigation into campaign associates of then-candidate Donald Trump,” the letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein states.

The committees also have questions about the FBI’s decision to notify Congress about new aspects of the Clinton email investigation just ahead of the 2016 election, the FBI’s decision to announce the decision that Mrs. Clinton would not be criminally charged, and the timeline of events leading up to that decision.

Information the committees have obtained on the matters “indicates that DOJ and FBI officials played a appreciable role in the decisions described above,” the letter states.

But Democrats were critical of the requests, arguing that they are meant to deflect attention away from the ongoing Russia investigation.

“Instead of investigating allegations of obstruction of justice at the White House, or the ongoing threat of foreign interference in our elections, the Republicans would rather continue their obsession with attacking President Trump’s political opponents,” said House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Republican’s inquiries were “misguided.”

“Republicans are rushing to demand documents and hold emergency interviews about Hillary Clinton, but they won’t ask the White House for even a single scrap of paper about Michael Flynn—President Trump’s right hand man who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the Russians,” the Maryland Democrat said.

Republicans have raised concern about political bias within the FBI in the wake of disclosures about some of top officials who played a role on the two investigations.

Ms. Page’s involvement in both the Clinton and Russia investigations came to light earlier this month when text messages she exchanged with a top FBI counterintelligence official, Peter Strzok, were made public. The messages, from 2015 and 2016, included disparaging remarks about Mr. Trump and a preference for Mrs. Clinton.

She and Mr. Strzok both worked on Mr. Mueller’s team for a time, but Mr. Stzrok was removed after the messages were discovered as part of an inspector general investigation.

Republicans have also been critical of Mr. McCabe’s political connections. His wife kept close political ties with former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a top Clinton ally, when she ran unsuccessfully for a Virginia state senate seat in 2015.

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