Updated 8:34 p.m. | House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte told reporters Tuesday evening that he plans to subpoena the Justice Department for memos Andrew McCabe wrote during his tenure as acting FBI director. The memos allegedly chronicle conversations in which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed secretly recording President Donald Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
“I had my consultation with the Democrats so that we can issue the subpoena now in two days,” the Virginia Republican said.
Two days — i.e., Thursday — is also when Rosenstein, who denies that he planned to record the president or wanted to invoke the 25th Amendment, is scheduled to meet with Trump to discuss his future.
There were numerous media reports Monday suggesting Rosenstein offered his resignation and expected Trump to fire him but no final calls were made then. Trump, who has been in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, said he did not want to make a decision until he gathered more information. He will meet with Rosenstein on Thursday after he returns to Washington.
Meanwhile, House Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan want Goodlatte to call Rosenstein to testify about the allegations raised in the McCabe memos and are threatening to bring a privileged resolution to the floor calling for Rosenstein’s impeachment if Goodlatte and Republican leaders do not call a hearing.
“I’m more interested in his testimony than having to force any kind of issue on the House floor,” Meadows told reporters Tuesday, but the North Carolian Republican noted that “any option in our tool bag is certainly an option that we can still deploy.”
Meadows and Jordan had raised the threat of forcing a floor vote on impeaching Rosenstein in July as an effort to leverage leadership to agree to pursue contempt proceedings against him if DOJ didn’t turn over documents congressional investigators had been requesting. Those documents related to alleged bias by FBI officials in their probe of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 elections.
Most of the documents were turned over, and Republicans did not initiate contempt proceedings, although they are still seeking access to certain classified materials.
Meadows, the Freedom Caucus chairman, said he’s talked to GOP leaders and Goodlatte about having Rosenstein testify, noting, “I get a sense that there may not be a resistance but there’s not an appetite for doing it.”
He declined to say what he would need to avoid filing a privileged resolution to impeach Rosenstein. Any member can force the House to vote on a resolution by introducing it as a matter of privilege. The House has two days to act on privileged resolutions, meaning Meadows would have to file the impeachment resolution Wednesday to ensure a floor vote before the House adjourns Friday.
But his leverage may be more effective if he were to file the resolution Thursday or Friday, providing GOP leaders with the difficult choice of having members vote on the resolution before adjourning or delaying and leaving vulnerable Republicans to have to answer questions about it on the campaign trail.
Goodlatte said no decisions have been made about whether to bring Rosenstein in to testify but suggested that he’d want to review the McCabe memos before making that call.
“The first thing we want is we want the McCabe memos because those are documents that would tell us something about that meeting without having to do with the testimony,” he said.
The House is expected to adjourn Friday through the midterm elections in November, holding only pro forma sessions throughout October.
“We have all kinds of time between now and then,” Goodlatte said, suggesting he’d be willing to call his committee back during the recess if needed.
“I’m not making any commitments [on] anything at this point other than we’re going to issue a subpoena,” he said.
The Freedom Caucus took an official position during its weekly meeting Tuesday night that Rosenstein needs to testify before the Judiciary committee within the week or he needs to resign.
Watch: How and Why Many Key Officials Have Exited the Trump Administration