May 22, 2019 / 1:28 PM / 7 months ago

House panel, Justice Dept end standoff over Mueller documents

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House Intelligence Committee pulled back on Wednesday from threats to enforce a subpoena against Attorney General William Barr after the Justice Department agreed to turn over materials relating to an investigation into Russian election interference.

The decision ended a standoff between the Democratic-led committee and the Justice Department for access to counterintelligence reports generated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller during his probe of President Donald Trump and his associates.

The dispute, one of many between the Republican administration and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, has come as Trump refuses to cooperate with numerous congressional probes into matters ranging from his personal finances and business dealings to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“The Department of Justice has accepted our offer of a first step toward compliance with our subpoena, and this week will begin turning over to the Committee twelve categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials as part of an initial rolling production,” U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the committee chairman, said on Wednesday.

Schiff canceled a committee meeting to consider enforcement action on Wednesday.

Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official and a Trump appointee, on May 2 snubbed the House intelligence committee, which voted to hold him in contempt of Congress for not handing over a full, unredacted Mueller report.

In a letter to Schiff on Tuesday, the Justice Department said it was willing to give Intelligence committee members and staff closed-door access to additional material if Schiff does not move forward with his threats to hold the department in contempt.

However, a request to the Justice Department from the Senate Intelligence committee for the same materials was still pending, a congressional source said.

The White House has accused Democrats of playing politics with the congressional probes.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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