(Bloomberg) -- Justice Department officials on Wednesday provided House Intelligence panel members a fuller view of a highly classified intelligence document that may have kicked off the FBI’s investigation of contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian operatives.
The move appeared to defuse threats by House Republicans to pursue contempt proceedings against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“Although the subpoenas issued by this committee in August 2017 remain in effect, I’d like to thank Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein for his cooperation today,” Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said in a statement Wednesday.
A Justice Department official said Nunes, the panel’s top Democrat, Adam Schiff, and other members of the committee have been granted access to the requested document with minimal redactions. It said the only information that remains concealed is the identity of the foreign government and the agent that provided some of the information.
Nunes had previously asserted the department was withholding too much of that document by providing only a heavily redacted version in response to an August 24, 2017 subpoena.
Republicans have been seeking the information it contained as part of their efforts to investigate what led federal agents to begin the investigation into Trump’s campaign during the 2016 presidential race.
The remaining redactions were done to prevent harm to national security by undermining the relationship with the foreign government that provided information, the Justice Department official said.
Earlier Wednesday, Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Oversight subcommittee on government operations, said he wanted Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte to proceed with contempt of Congress actions.
Goodlatte wouldn’t said whether or not he planned to have such a debate, adding that his committee is continuing to work on issues involving the Justice Department.
Not all House Republicans were enthused with the idea of pursuing contempt action against the Justice and FBI officials at this time, anyhow.
Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois noted that it was just this week that Attorney General Jeff Sessions put a U.S. attorney, John Lausch, in charge of providing Congress with documents, including on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
"Let’s give that some time," he said.
Meadows and other GOP members of the Oversight and Judiciary panels say the department also missed a deadline for handing over some other documents related to the Russia investigation, as well as material tied to the FBI’s handling of its Clinton probe.
"They missed the deadline for our subpoena for Judiciary, and it’s five months old," Meadows said.
Democrats, including Schiff, have complained that such contempt threats are intended to intimidate the Justice Department and the FBI, and potentially provide Trump with a pretext to fire Rosenstein and Wray -- and undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
"The chairman’s rhetoric is a shocking and irresponsible escalation of the GOP’s attacks on the FBI and DOJ," Schiff said in a statement Wednesday. He said both Rosenstein and Wray have already made available to the Intelligence Committee scores of highly sensitive documents related to ongoing investigations.
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