The Department of Justice denied the Senate Judiciary Committee’s requests to interview two FBI officials about President Donald Trump’s termination of FBI Director James Comey, CNN reported on Wednesday, a possible sign that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Comey’s firing.
According to the report, the panel’s chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked the Department of Justice to allow Senate investigators to sit down with senior FBI officials Carl Ghattas and James Rybicki for a transcribed interview.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Samuel Ramer cited the Justice Department’s “long-standing policy regarding the confidentiality and sensitivity of information relating to pending matters” in a July letter denying that request, as quoted by CNN.
According to CNN, the Justice Department specifically cited “the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III” as special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and “related matters” as its cause for denying the Senate panel’s request.
Grassley and Feinstein in August told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that Senate investigators would “limit the scope” of the interview to avoid overlap with Mueller’s probe, a fruitless modification, according to CNN.
“Thus far, we’ve not received cooperation from DOJ and the special counsel’s office in scheduling those interviews voluntarily,” Grassley’s spokesman George Hartmann told CNN. “Both the judiciary committee and the special counsel are engaged in important investigations.”
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department told CNN that the subject is a “question for the special counsel,” and a spokesperson for Mueller declined to comment to CNN.