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The Department of Justice wrote a letter Friday to the House Judiciary Committee saying the department stands ready to cooperate in good faith with any congressional investigations. Immediately following that, they then said they will neither cooperate on—or even confirm or deny the existence of—any ongoing investigations. That takes pretty much all the interesting stuff off the table.
The DOJ’s letter is in response to the new chair of the committee, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, who on January 17 had requested documents and testimony regarding:
- immigration enforcement at the chaotic Southern border
- efforts to monitor parents at school board meetings and label them domestic terrorists
- potential FISA abuse.
Jordan also asked for information on some active investigations, including information regarding the FBI’s summer 2022 classified document raid on former President Trump’s home, Mar-A-Lago.
Why’s DOJ scared to cooperate with our investigations?
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) January 20, 2023
Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs Carlos Felipe Uriarte wrote:
Consistent with longstanding policy and practice, any oversight requests must be weighed against the Department’s interests in protecting the integrity of its work…
Longstanding Department policy prevents us from confirming or denying the existence of pending investigations in response to congressional requests or providing non-public information about our investigations…
The Department’s obligation to ‘protect the government’s ability to prosecute fully and fairly’ is vital to the Executive Branch’s core constitutional function to investigate and prosecute criminal matters.
In other words, we’ll tell you what we feel like telling you—when we feel like it.
Why can’t the White House just be honest with us about Joe Biden’s classified documents and the border crisis?
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) January 21, 2023
The department also said it would not provide lower-level agents and officials for testimony. It demanded that any DOJ witness be given at least two weeks advance notice in order to prepare. Not finished with their requirements, they also commanded Jordan to “prioritize” his requests:
Prioritization is critical to an efficient accommodation process. It enables the Department to focus its limited resources on the information most pertinent to the Committee’s inquiries. Without prioritization, requests will take longer to resolve and will be more likely to yield irrelevant information.
Uriarte then tried to get cute by bringing up Republican icon Ronald Regan:
“As President Reagan explained in his 1982 directive on responding to congressional requests for information, the ‘tradition of accommodation’ should be ‘the primary means of resolving conflicts between the branches,’” Uriarte said.
Let’s be honest: Attorney General Merrick Garland and his minions probably abhorred Reagan, and only included this line as a not-so-subtle troll. One can’t help but notice that Uriarte brings up “conflicts between the branches,” indicating that he’s preparing for many future confrontations with the Judiciary committee as it plows forward.
It is true that the DOJ has longstanding policies and practices of not discussing active investigations, and some of their arguments are in fact legitimate. However, one trick they have up their sleeves is to just investigate anything they don’t want to be asked about. Hunter Biden’s laptop? Can’t talk about that—under investigation. The classified documents Joe Biden left all over the place? Sorry, no can do—under investigation. They will then drag out these investigations into eternity, or until voters smarten up and kick the Democrats out of the White House.
The other interesting thing about the letter is its tone. It has a certain “bless your heart” quality to it, and basically says, “you’re not the boss of me, Republicans, so there!”
Don’t expect much cooperation to come from the DOJ or the AG, and expect temperatures between them and Jim Jordan to reach scorching levels. Grab the popcorn.
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