Democrats on the House Oversight Committee Tuesday asked for documents classified by the Department of Justice, but said to confirm former FBI Director James B. Comey’s claim that President Trump asked him to “lift the cloud of the Russia probe.”
The Democrats requested committee chairman, Rep. Trey Goody, South Carolina Republican, to subpoena the Justice Department for the documents. They claim the documents will explain why notes taken former Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente detailing a March 2017 conversation he had with Mr. Comey are classified.
Mr. Boente was interviewed last month by special counsel Robert Mueller. He was said to have turned over handwritten notes accounting his conversation with Mr. Comey that could potentially be used as evidence that Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice. Mr. Trump has accused Mr. Comey of lying about their interactions.
“These notes are contemporaneous evidence corroborating a conversation in which Director Comey conveyed to Mr. Boente that President Donald Trump asked Director Comey to lift the ‘cloud’ of the Russia investigation and to ‘get out’ that the president was not under criminal investigation,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat, and Stephen Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, wrote in the letter.
“It is unclear who at the Department of Justice tried to improperly classify these notes, but is an abuse of the classification system to try to classify information merely to conceal information from the American people for political reasons, and the Department of Justice is obstructing our investigation into this abuse by withholding these documents from Congress,” the two Democrats continued.
The Justice Department last month gave Congress copies of Mr. Comey’s personal notes about his interactions with Mr. Trump. Mr. Mueller is said to be investigating whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice by scuttling the Russia probe.
Mr. Boente currently serves as the acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
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