House GOP weighs contempt against key witness in Federal Bureau of Investigation probes

House GOP weighs contempt against key witness in Federal Bureau of Investigation probes

The former Federal Bureau of Investigation attorney involved in a series of text exchanges with a colleague that led to accusations of anti-Trump bias within the agency was supposed to testify in front of Congress on Wednesday, but her attorney says that won't happen, even though she was subpoenaed.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that he backed Goodlatte's efforts to secure Page's testimony. That deposition had been intended by Republicans to set the stage for an open hearing scheduled by the same panels on Thursday with FBI Agent Peter Strzok, with whom she had a romantic relationship. Strzok was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe earlier this year after his texts were revealed.

Page also briefly served on Mueller's investigative team until the revelations of her texts with Strzok. On Tuesday, Jeffress said she and Page had gone to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to review the materials, "but after waiting for more than three hours, we were not provided with any documents".

The president has repeatedly painted Mueller's investigation as a tainted witch-hunt led by Democrats. Page has also been seeking access to Federal Bureau of Investigation documents that the committees already had, and Jeffress said they heard late Tuesday that the request for that access had been granted.

As the committees have investigated bias at the Justice Department, they have focused much of their ire on Strzok.

Page's attorney said that she and Page did not have enough time to prepare for the meeting, and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was less than accommodating when they went to go over materials had been given to Congress.

"As a result", he concluded, "Lisa is not going to appear for an interview at this time".

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The Judiciary Committee also held a contentious hearing June 28 with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Ryan, asked about Page's decision not to testify Wednesday, said, "I am very disturbed by this".

The move by Page's attorney was a rare moment of pushback, as Republicans and the President have continued to hold up Page and Strzok as Exhibit A of political bias infecting the nation's premier law enforcement agency.

A previously unreported letter obtained by CNN shows that negotiations have, in fact, been ongoing, but the decision by members of the House Judiciary Committee to sign on to an April 2018 referral of Page - along with several other former FBI and Justice Department officials, and Clinton - for a criminal investigation, raised the stakes.

Strzok had a leading role in the Clinton probe and was removed from the Mueller investigation after the texts were discovered a year ago.

In a letter to her lawyer Amy Jeffress, Goodlatte said she had a choice of appearing publicly along with Strzok in a hearing on Thursday, or accepting to be deposed privately on Friday at 10:00 am.

Strzok was interviewed in closed session with lawmakers for 11 hours last month and his lawyer has asked the transcript be made public.

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