Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is reportedly ready to strike back at Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) after Fox News reported about a threat Rosenstein made about hitting lawmakers and staffers with a subpoena.
Here’s what happened
Fox News reported that they had obtained emails substantiating a report that Rosenstein had threatened to subpoena lawmakers and staff of the House Intelligence Committee as a reaction to their repeated demands for documents relating to the Russian investigation.
The threat was allegedly made during a closed-door meeting between FBI officials, Department of Justice officials, and members of the House Intelligence Committee in January 2018.
“The DAG [Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein] criticized the Committee for sending our requests in writing and was further critical of the Committee’s request to have DOJ/FBI do the same when responding,” a former staffer on the committee said in one of the emails detailing the meeting.
“Going so far as to say that if the Committee likes being litigators, then ‘we [DOJ] too [are] litigators, and we will subpoena your records and your emails,’ referring to HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] and Congress overall,” it read.
A second committee staffer confirmed the email and said that it felt like a “not-so-veiled threat to unleash the full prosecutorial power of the state against us.”
The FBI and DOJ deny the report
A statement from the FBI denies that the account of the meeting is accurate. “The FBI disagrees with a number of characterizations of the meeting as described in the excerpts of a staffer’s emails provided to us by Fox News,” the statement read.
A Department of Justice official also denied the account, telling Fox News that Rosenstein “never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation.”
Rosenstein strikes back
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein will “request that the House general counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers’ conduct” according to a Department of Justice official who spoke to CNN.
A Justice Department official also attempted to explain what Rosenstein had actually done at the meeting.
“The Deputy Attorney General was making the point – after being threatened with contempt – 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 official explained.
“That is why he put them on notice to retain relevant emails and text messages, and he hopes they did so,” the official added.
Here’s the report from Fox News: