Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday they’re happy to hold former FBI attorney Lisa Page in contempt of Congress if she continues defying a congressional subpoena to reply to questions about anti-Donald Trump word exchanges.
“I am very disturbed written by this,” Ryan told reporters in the news conference. “Congressional subpoenas for testimony are not optional. … She was obviously a element of in pretty bad shape that they have uncovered at DOJ. She’s a duty in the future testify.”
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Ryan later added: “If sherrrd like in the future plead the 5th, that’s her choice. But a subpoena to testify before Congress seriously isn’t optional. It’s mandatory. She needs to comply.”
Ryan’s comments supported House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who issued the subpoena for Page’s testimony on Saturday and blasted Page’s decision to skip a Wednesday morning deposition. It’s unclear once the House might transfer to hold Page in contempt – or whether an agreement can be contacted to herald Page in later this month.
Ryan’s remarks instantly fuel an ever growing confrontation between GOP lawmakers and top FBI officials who’ve been in the center of the president’s claims the fact that FBI’s Russia investigation may be a “witch hunt” led by biased FBI personnel. Page’s texts with FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok – unearthed by an internal Justice Department watchdog – revealed deep animus toward Trump. However, there is also no evidence to exhibit their personal views were translated into action.
For his part, Strzok – who testified prior to when the House Judiciary and Oversight committees for 11 hours last month – has forcefully denied that he or she improperly prioritized the Russia probe in late 2016 over an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server or took actions based upon anti-Trump sentiment. Strzok is due back on Capitol Hill on Thursday for just a public hearing.
Page’s attorney, Amy Jeffress, said Wednesday morning that Page isn’t refusing to cooperate with the committees but had been treated unfairly and denied usage of relevant FBI files required in her to make.
“Through her actions and words, Lisa has made it abundantly clear that they will cooperate on this investigation. All she will be asking shall be treated as other witnesses have underneath the Committees’ own rules,” Jeffress said inside a statement.
According to Jeffress, Page has volunteered to testify later this month, provided she receives more details in regards to the scope of the committees’ questioning and access to certain FBI files. Jeffress said the Justice Department confirmed late Tuesday night the files might be distributed around her.
“We work to tidy up that process quickly so that we are able to move forward with her appearance ahead of the Committees,” Jeffress said, adding that within their statements, persons in your home Judiciary and Oversight committees were engaging in “bullying tactics.”
Not all Republicans agitating to haul Page before Congress think her behavior is set in bad faith.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said he understood the FBI would not provide relevant documents to Page she required by order to prepare for her deposition. He explained he spoke on the FBI close to Wednesday morning which officials confirmed a “technical glitch” prevented them from sharing the files. Page, he noted, went to the FBI and waited for 3 hours to obtain her files, in order to be denied.
“If indeed she emerged and waited for several hours with the FBI, shame to them,” Meadows said.
“I’m aiming to confirm right this moment it could be a delay or even a stall tactic,” he stated. “Obviously, she’s known that she’s a witness with pertinent information – yet while doing so, I don’t want to falsely accuse her of something if this was through no-fault of her very own.”
Asked whether getting Page’s testimony is essential well before Strzok’s public hearing, Meadows said it isn’t essential.
“We may need to keep returning and get Peter Strzok additional questions even as we ask her questions,” he said. “Certainly, that isn’t the earliest or last time that i will be asking Peter Strzok questions since it works with the bias we feel existed in the investigation.”
Meadows’ testamonials are notable – he’s been one of the most aggressive critics of Strzok and Page’s text message exchanges, insisting that they are proof of deep-seated bias among the officials in charge of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential collusion between the Kremlin and Trump campaign.
Meadows’ comments were also at odds with that surrounding Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an excellent House conservative and ally of Meadows, who said he thinks Republicans may issue another subpoena for Page’s testimony and can even ultimately hold her in contempt for defying Congress.
Democrats were largely silent to the unfolding dispute only one Judiciary Committee member, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), suggested Page should testify – whilst he took a jab at Trump’s reluctance to do an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller.
“It is wrong for Lisa Page to not speak with investigators for reason it is wrong for @realDonaldTrump to never discuss with investigators,” he tweeted. “There isn’t an requirement that investigators really need to provide information ahead of time to the witness, subject or simply a target earlier than discussing with them.”