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As GOP attacks on Justice Dept. escalate, top officials meet with House Speaker Ryan

Joseph Tanfani, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Amid escalating tensions between some House Republicans and the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a private meeting with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

Wray and Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department and the man overseeing the special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign's dealings with Russian agents, asked for the meeting in part to discuss the department's responses to House subpoenas and requests for information, according to a person familiar with the request who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The meeting comes as President Donald Trump and allies in Congress have stepped up their attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI and the probe run by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Critics have alleged the investigation is infected with partisan bias, pointing to texts last year between two FBI officials during the campaign that were highly critical of Trump.

Republicans also have been pushing the FBI and Justice Department to reveal more about what they know about a dossier containing allegations about Trump associates and Russia. The dossier, which was prepared by a private firm hired by Trump's political opponents, was published by BuzzFeed early last year.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, last week wrote a letter to Rosenstein demanding he turn over by Wednesday FBI reports related to the dossier and meetings between agents and confidential sources -- along with all text messages. The letter also asked for interviews with five FBI employees and a former Justice Department lawyer.

"At this point the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves," Nunes wrote in the letter, criticizing the department for "intransigence."

 

In this charged atmosphere, Rosenstein, a Republican and former top prosecutor in Baltimore, has avoided firing back at his critics but has defended Mueller's integrity and said repeatedly he sees no justification for firing him. Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May, shortly after Trump fired former FBI Director James B. Comey.

The Justice Department had not responded to Nunes' letter by early Wednesday evening. A spokesman for Nunes declined to comment.

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