Speaker Paul D. Ryan yielded to House conservatives this week by scheduling an expected vote for Thursday on a resolution demanding the Department of Justice hand over a trove of documents related to potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by department officials in 2016.
The resolution, which the House cannot enforce, would mark the first time the full chamber goes on the record requesting the DOJ documents.
Democrats have dismissed the Republicans’ FISA concerns as a smokescreen for the multiple federal investigations into President Donald Trump’s campaign and its communications with Russian government officials in 2016.
With the decision to schedule a floor vote Thursday on the resolution, which is expected to pass the House Rules Committee at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Ryan appeared to pivot from comments he made just a day earlier.
The speaker said Tuesday he was satisfied with the partial materials the DOJ provided House leaders last week, and that he expects “full compliance very, very soon.”
“I got involved a week ago. And since that, we have had compliance coming forth from the DOJ” with respect to handing over FISA-related documents, Ryan said at the House GOP leadership’s weekly press conference.
“We had them working through the weekend to deal with completing the document requests that our committees have made across the Department of Justice. There are technical issues involved. It’s literally like computer search terms and things like that,” he said.
“We do expect full compliance very, very soon.”
The resolution from Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina sets a July 6 deadline for the DOJ to produce the subpoenaed documents.
It accuses the department of failing to comply with subpoenas and requests for documents by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.
“While they have turned over additional documents, the new documents represent a small percentage of what they owe,” Meadows told Politico Tuesday. “The notion that DOJ/FBI have been forthcoming with Congress is false.”
Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong declined to comment Wednesday on why Ryan agreed to work with Meadows and other conservatives on such a resolution.
The DOJ had requested additional time to dig up outstanding items, and that “based on our understanding of the process we believe that request is reasonable,” Strong said in a statement to CBS Saturday.
“We expect the department to meet its full obligations to the two committees,” Strong said.
The resolution the Rules Committee will vote on Wednesday differs from a resolution that passed the House Judiciary Committee despite opposition from Chairman Bob Goodlatte.
Goodlatte opposed the Judiciary Committee resolution because he believed it was out of order and that its demands went beyond requesting the subpoenaed documents.
The Rules Committee tightened that resolution’s language to only include previously requested and subpoenaed documents from the DOJ by the two House committees.
Those committees’ requests have focused on classified documents relevant to the DOJ’s use of the FISA surveillance program to monitor Trump campaign associate Carter Page in 2016. At the time, the FBI thought Page might have been acting as a Russian agent while working on Trump’s campaign.