The result is that, despite Republican control of the House, the votes may not be there to pass and enforce a contempt citation. Without a credible threat of enforcement, the Justice Department and FBI will continue defying subpoenas, and the FBI lawyers will keep instructing Strzok, Lisa Page, and other key witnesses not to answer questions.

It is not possible to get at the truth that way. A joint committee determined to get at the truth would use its power to gather all the documentary evidence before interrogating witnesses. It would not convene for ten hours to allow 75 legislators five minutes each of TV-camera time with Strzok; it would hire a competent investigator and trial lawyer to spend ten hours walking Strzok through every document — a carefully planned, exhaustive examination in which he is forced to answer tough questions, not make speeches.

That isn’t what’s happening. Instead, Strzok gets to present the story he wants to tell, avoiding the questions he and the FBI do not want to answer. Without access to the full documentary record, the committees have no practical way to cross-examine him.