The Justice Department is refusing to cooperate with a congressional oversight investigation into President Joe Biden's classified documents scandal.
What is the background?
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan sent the Justice Department a letter on Jan. 13 requesting documents related the scandal.
Jordan announced his probe on Jan. 13, one day after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed former U.S. attorney Robert Hur as special counsel to investigate Biden. Specifically, Jordan wants all documents and communications related to the investigation.
"It is unclear when the Department first came to learn about the existence of these documents, and whether it actively concealed this information from the public on the eve of the 2022 elections," Jordan wrote in his letter. "It is also unclear what interactions, if any, the Department had with President Biden or his representatives about his mishandling of classified material. The Department’s actions here appear to depart from how it acted in similar circumstances."
How did the DOJ respond?
In a letter on Monday, Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte told Jordan the DOJ will not hand over any of the requested materials for congressional oversight.
"Disclosures to Congress about active investigations risk jeopardizing those investigations and creating the appearance that Congress may be exerting improper political pressure or attempting to influence Department decisions in certain cases," Uriarte wrote.
"Judgments about whether and how to pursue a matter are, and must remain, the exclusive responsibility of the Department," he asserted.
To divulge information related to the DOJ's ongoing special counsel investigation would, according to Uriarte, violate "longstanding policy."
"Disclosing non-public information about ongoing investigations could violate statutory requirements or court orders, reveal road maps of our investigations, and interfere with the Department’s ability to gather facts, interview witnesses, and bring criminal prosecutions where warranted," he said.
How did Jordan respond?
Russell Dye, a spokesman for Jordan, said the decision indicates the DOJ is "playing politics."
"It's concerning, to say the least, that the Department is more interested in playing politics than cooperating," Dye said, CNN reported.
Meanwhile, Jordan disclosed last week that he was "definitely looking at asking for documents via subpoena," but said at the time he was only considering it. Perhaps the DOJ's refusal to cooperate with his investigation has made his decision easier.
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