Ryan noncommittal on vote to hold Sessions in contempt

Ryan noncommittal on vote to hold Sessions in contempt

(CNN) – Conservatives in the House of Representatives are making a push to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress for failing to hand over documents related to the Russia investigation, but House Speaker Paul Ryan is noncommittal so far.

“This is not something the chairman has discussed with the speaker,” AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for Ryan, said Monday when asked if the speaker supported the effort, referencing House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.

Nunes launched the latest contempt threat to Sessions on Sunday on “Fox and Friends,” and sources tell CNN that House Republicans want to hold a vote over the next several days.

The latest clash over records involves a “specific individual,” according to a letter obtained by CNN, and it relates to the Russia investigation — which Sessions is recused from.

Nunes has called the request “very important,” but the Justice Department says turning over the materials could risk lives and sources, and could compromise ongoing criminal investigations.

Speaking in San Diego, California, on Monday, Sessions said the Justice Department has told Nunes his request goes too far but that the department would be willing to talk about to him about it.

“The Department of Justice has written him a letter and responded as appropriate to him. The request he’s made is one that the intelligence communities and Department of Justice feels is not grantable,” Sessions said. “We have explained that we would like — we would be willing to talk to him about it before, the details of which I couldn’t discuss.”

In the past, Ryan and the White House have backed Nunes’ document requests, resulting in lawmakers being given access to a significant amount of classified materials.

In this latest dust-up, the department has offered to discuss whether there are other ways to accommodate Nunes’ request, but it has yet to hear from the California Republican, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican who led the House’s Russia investigation, said it was “premature” to be discussing contempt.

“We expect our subpoenas to be complied with and we’ll see what happens,” he said.

But Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican on the Intelligence panel, said he was open to contempt if it was necessary to obtain the information.

“I would support whatever tools we have available,” Stewart said. “There’s no reason in the world for this information not to be available.”

Stewart pointed to the initial redactions of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on Michael Flynn’s FBI interview in the House GOP’s Russia report. The information was declassified in the latest version of the report, and Stewart said it was another sign of the administration using redactions to protect the FBI.