The Republican chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees are asking the Justice Department to let them conduct transcribed interviews with three top FBI officials as part of an ongoing joint probe into how officials handled the investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.
Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Tuesday asking to interview the FBI's Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, FBI chief of staff James Rybicki and FBI counsel Lisa Page, beginning as soon as Thursday.
Goodlatte and Gowdy released the letter shortly before the House Intelligence Committee finished grilling McCabe in an eight-hour, closed-door session on Tuesday. Gowdy is a member of the intelligence panel and participated in the interview.
Leading Republicans, have criticized McCabe and even called for his removal from the FBI in recent days. Gowdy complained to Fox News on Tuesday that McCabe "cuts across every facet of every investigation in 2016" involving Clinton or President Trump.
McCabe postponed a scheduled interview with the House Intelligence panel last week. According to Bloomberg News, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) also called for McCabe's ouster this week.
Democrats have defended McCabe, criticizing those calling for his removal. Leaving the interview with McCabe Tuesday night, House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam B. Schiff (Calif.) said the calls to fire McCabe were "irresponsible."
"He has been a professional FBI agent and works with an impressive team of other agents, and I don't know that I understand the calls that I've heard from some to fire him," Schiff said.
The other two FBI officials named in Goodlatte and Gowdy's letter have already emerged as people of interest in other congressional inquiries into Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state. Grassley named Rybicki as one of two FBI officials who, according to transcripts from an internal FBI inquiry, recalled former FBI director James B. Comey circulating drafts of the statement he would make exonerating Clinton months ahead of time.
Grassley accused the FBI of "conclusion first, fact-gathering second." The FBI later posted a heavily redacted document containing a May 2016 email from Rybicki to a small group of top FBI officials asking for "any comments" on the statement being drafted.
Page has also captured investigators' attention after it emerged earlier this month that she was trading pro-Clinton, anti-Trump text messages with Peter Strzok, a top counterintelligence at the FBI with whom she was having a romantic affair.
Several committees on Capitol Hill, including the ones Gowdy and Goodlatte chair, have demanded interviews and documents from Strzok following that revelation. Both Strzok and Page worked on the Clinton email probe and were members of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's team investigating Trump, until their bosses discovered they had been exchanging politically charged texts.
McCabe, who worked closely with both Strzok and Page, has also come under fire because of those texts.
Goodlatte and Gowdy's committees announced their joint probe into the FBI and DOJ's handling of the Clinton email investigation in late October. Democrats have accused the GOP of using the investigations "to distract attention" from parallel investigations into allegations of ties between the Trump campaign and Kremlin officials. Democrats are concerned that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are racing to wrap up their probe of Trump by the end of the year.