Last week, reports emerged that the Justice Department had failed to meet a deadline requiring the agency to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee in response to a March 22 subpoena issued by Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA).
According to the Washington Examiner, the subpoena sought “Information on a variety of matters, including the documents concerning the investigation of Clinton’s private email server in 2016, possible abuses pertaining to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommendation that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe be fired.”
However, the DOJ failed to turn over the subpoenaed documents on the required date, despite FBI Director Wray acknowledging that the production rate for documents was too slow, and the FBI doubling the number of staff dedicated to review of the documents from 27 to 54. According to Chairman Goodlatte (VA), to date, the committee has received, “only a few thousand of the 1.2 million documents provided to the Inspector General.”
On Saturday President Trump voiced his concerns with the slow-walking process, in a series of tweets, “Lawmakers of the House Judiciary Committee are angrily accusing the Department of Justice of missing the Thursday Deadline for turning over UNREDACTED Documents relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more. Slow walking – what is going on? BAD!”
Lawmakers of the House Judiciary Committee are angrily accusing the Department of Justice of missing the Thursday Deadline for turning over UNREDACTED Documents relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more. Slow walking – what is going on? BAD!
This was followed by President Trump asking, “What does the Department of Justice and FBI have to hide? Why aren’t they giving the strongly requested documents (unredacted) to the HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE? Stalling, but for what reason? Not looking good!”
What does the Department of Justice and FBI have to hide? Why aren’t they giving the strongly requested documents (unredacted) to the HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE? Stalling, but for what reason? Not looking good!
In response to the continued slow-walking by the FBI, preventing the House Judiciary Committee from exercising proper congressional oversight, the DOJ announced on Monday that it had formally appointed U.S. Attorney John Lausch to oversee the production of documents to Congress.
The Chicago Tribune relates that, “Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray asked U.S. Attorney John Lausch, whom Trump picked to lead the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois, over the weekend if he would supervise the Justice Department’s handing over of materials to Congress on the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, the investigation of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the firing of Andrew McCabe from the FBI.”
In a statement released by DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores, the Attorney General and FBI Director, “…understand the concerns of members of Congress and the president about the pace of production and level of redactions in the documents already received by the committee. They agree with that the Department and the FBI should accommodate the committee’s request in a timely fashion and in the fullest manner consistent with the department’s law enforcement and national security responsibilities.”
Additionally, Fox News reports that on Monday, the FBI would turn over an additional 3,600 pages to the House Judiciary Committee, but that the committee would not be given access to all documents initially turned over to DOJ Inspector General Horowitz.
The DOJ claimed that those documents being withheld from the committee include, “Grand jury material and classified information which must be redacted in order to preserve the integrity of other investigations and to avoid the appearance of political influence in criminal prosecutions.”
The DOJ notes that a separate request by Chairman Nunes (R-CA) of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence had been complied with in-part, but that the DOJ had not removed the remaining redactions in the document, as they “pertain to the identity of a foreign nation.”