The Justice Department has blocked Senate investigators from interviewing two senior FBI officials, Chris Ghattas and James Rybicki. Ghattas and Rybicki could provide testimony on the firing of FBI director James Comey and how the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server was handled.
From The Hill:
The Justice Department is blocking Senate investigators from interviewing two top FBI officials who could provide testimony on the firing of former director James Comey and the handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to a letter obtained by The Hill.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have repeatedly requested that the two senior bureau officials, Carl Ghattas and James Rybicki, appear for a transcribed interview.
The Justice Department in July declined the committee’s request to speak with Rybicki and Ghattas, citing the appointment of Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel in the Russia investigation and “related matters.”
Grassley and Feinstein offered to limit the scope of their questions to events that occurred before Comey’s dismissal, in an effort to avoid a conflict with the pending Mueller investigation, but the Justice Department has stood by its initial refusal.
“As a threshold matter, the scope of the Committee’s inquiry has not been de-conflicted with Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a Monday letter to the committee declining the request.
“Therefore, in order to protect the integrity of the Special Counsel’s investigation, as we have previously indicated, we will not be able to provide Mr. Ghattas or Mr. Rybicki for interviews at this time.”
A committee spokesperson told The Hill in an email Wednesday that there are ongoing informal discussions with the Justice Department but they have “yet to produce any results.”
CNN first reported the Justice Department’s refusal to make the officials available for interview but did not report on the letter.
A spokesperson for the office of the special counsel declined to comment.
The Judiciary Committee is investigating improper political interference in FBI investigations, including the investigation into the former secretary of State’s email server and the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Read more: (Link: thehill.com)