Washington — The Justice Department on Tuesday offered to give the House Intelligence Committee access to a less-redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report and eventually some documents related to the investigation if Democrats dropped a threat to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, a move one House committee has already taken.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd warned the Democratic-controlled Intelligence Committee that his agency would not cooperate with lawmakers on their requests for more material on Mueller's probe if the panel issues a contempt citation or carries out any "enforcement action" against Barr, who Democrats have accused of shielding President Trump.
"Should the Committee take the precipitous and unnecessary action of recommending a contempt finding or other enforcement action against the Attorney General, then the Department will not likely be able to continue to work with the Committee to accommodate its interests in these materials," Boyd wrote in a four-page letter addressed to the committee's Democratic chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff of California.
Schiff's committee, one of several committees embroiled in a tense standoff with the White House and Justice Department over documents and testimony related to the president's conduct, is scheduled to hold a business meeting Wednesday morning to discuss taking "enforcement action" for its subpoena demanding Barr to hand over counterintelligence and foreign intelligence gathered by Mueller.
Earlier in the month, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, and his panel voted to hold Barr in contempt for not complying with the panel's subpoenas for the Mueller report.
In his letter Tuesday, Boyd said the Justice Department is prepared to work with committee to identify a "tranche" of materials and documents related to the Mueller investigation that would be subject to review and possible disclosure by the agency. He added the department is already working to identify, locate and review a "voluminous" and "sensitive" trove of documents requested by the panel earlier this month. But he again warned that any action by the committee against Barr would bring this process to a halt.
The assistant attorney general cast his offer to Democrats as an olive branch to ease tensions between the committee and the Justice Department.
"The proposal set forth above represents a good faith effort and extraordinary accommodation of the Committee's request for information by proposing a realistic process to provide the Committee with information pertaining to counterintelligence and foreign-intelligence activities related to the Special Counsel's investigation," he wrote.
Paula Reid and Olivia Gazis contributed reporting.