House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has given the Justice Department until Tuesday to provide access to documents concerning the FBI's alleged informant looking into any Russian ties to President Trump's 2016 campaign.
In a letter sent Friday to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Nunes said the records should be provided to all committee members "and designated staff" rather than just the so-called "Gang of Eight" -- which refers to Republican and Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress as well as top lawmakers from the intelligence panels.
"DOJ continues to obfuscate and delay its production using an array of tactics, such as incorrectly categorizing the requested documents as Gang-of-Eight-level material in order to limit access," wrote Nunes, referring to an April 30 subpoena for the documents. "Such conduct by DOJ is unacceptable because the Gang-of-Eight is a legal fiction that has no basis outside of the confines of Presidential approval and reporting of covert actions."
Nunes also wrote, "Your continued refusal to permit Members of Congress and designated staff to review the requested documents is obstruction of a lawful Congressional investigation."
Asked about the letter, however, a DOJ official said Rosenstein is currently “representing the United States in a brief unrelated visit to a foreign nation, one of America’s key intelligence partners,” indicating he would plan on responding during the previously scheduled briefing on Thursday.
“He, along with the FBI Director and DNI Coats, look forward to further briefing and again presenting responsive documents to Chairman Nunes and the rest of his colleagues in the Gang of 8 meeting scheduled for Thursday of this week,” the official said.
Nunes' letter was in response to an offer by the Justice Department and the FBI to brief the "Gang of Eight" in an effort to blunt criticism from the House conservatives who repeatedly have pressed for documents and questioned the department's conduct in the Russia investigation.
The Justice Department originally denied Congress access to any of the documents, citing national security concerns. But it later relented and held two high-level briefings last month in response to pressure from the White House, Nunes and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
A department official said last week that the department would provide new materials and also "the documents that were available for review but not inspected by the members at the previous briefing."
"Frankly the sooner the Department of Justice complies with all of our document requests, which are legitimate document requests, the better this is going to be for everybody, and had they complied with the document requests earlier when we made them, we probably could have spared the country of all of this drama," Ryan said Thursday.
"I will not relent in my duties on behalf of the American public to discover all the facts in this matter," Nunes wrote in his conclusion to the letter. "Any response falling short of this request will be considered an effort to conceal material information from Congress -- a dangerous precedent that threatens the core of our democracy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.