Unredacted copies of the Comey memos were to be made available to members of Congress Friday at secure facilities at the Capitol. The Justice Department’s decision to turn them over to lawmakers came just days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote to the Republican chairmen of the House Oversight, Intelligence and Judiciary Committees expressing concern that providing them could affect an ongoing criminal investigation.
It was the second time in as many weeks that the Justice Department has relented in a face-off with Trump allies in Congress and provided access to sensitive materials at the heart of the Russia investigation. Last week, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., met with Rosenstein and viewed the electronic communication tied to the launch of the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016.
In a joint statement, Nunes, Gowdy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the memos were significant “for both what is in them and what is not,” asserting that they do not suggest any attempt by Trump to obstruct justice.
“Rather than making a criminal case for obstruction or interference with an ongoing investigation, these memos would be Defense Exhibit A should such a charge be made,” the chairmen write.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, countered that Comey’s contemporaneous notes about his interactions are “strong corroborating evidence” of his public claims about Trump.
“President Trump’s interference was a blatant effort to deny justice, and Director Comey was right to document it as it happened — in real time,” Cummings said.
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