(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Justice sent a letter to two House committees on Friday insisting that it has “substantially complied” with their requests for documents and information, and that they are working to address outstanding requests.
The letter comes in response to a resolution passed by GOP-led House at a tense hearing over a week ago “insisting” the department “fully comply” with document requests and subpoenas related to the Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations by Friday.
“The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation believe that they have now substantially complied with these House requests, and any residual or ongoing production of materials will be expeditiously completed in coordination with staff members from the appropriate committees,” the letter reads.
The Justice Department also noted that due to the House requests, it has to build and deploy a search tool to look through classified systems.
The resolution followed a heated back and fourth between House Republicans and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray at a tense joint hearing by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.
In one combative exchange, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, accused Rosenstein of hiding information from Congress, and at one point appeared to taunt the embattled deputy attorney general minutes before the House Republicans voted to sanction the Department of Justice over document requests.
“I think in a few minutes, the House of Representatives is going to go on record saying you haven’t complied with requests from a separate but equal branch of government, that you haven’t complied with subpoenas, and you have seven days to get your act together, ” Jordan shot back, referring to the nonbinding resolution.
“I am not keeping any information from Congress,” a visibly irritated Rosenstein said, pointing his finger at Jordan. “I certainly hope your colleagues aren’t under that impression. That is not accurate, sir.”
Rosenstein went on to describe the team has put together – led by U.S. Attorney John Lausch from Illinois – to respond to document requests from Congress. Earlier in the hearing, Wray said the FBI has produced 880,000 pages of documents to Congress and has “substantially complied” with requests.
An animated Jordan continued jabbing Rosenstein, who struggled to respond over Jordan’s shouts. At multiple points, Democrats on the panel cut in to demand that Republicans give Rosenstein a chance to respond.
“Mr. Jordan, I am the deputy attorney general of the United States. Okay? I’m not the person doing the redacting. I’m responsible for responding to your concerns as I have,” Rosenstein said, adding, “Your use of this to attack me personally is deeply wrong.”
Democrats argue that Republicans are making unreasonable document demands in an effort to discredit the Justice Department and Mueller’s investigation and aid Trump’s legal defense.
“This is not oversight,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on the House floor during last week’s hearing. “This is collaboration with the executive.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., encouraged the senior law enforcement officials to speed up the Mueller investigation.
“If you have evidence of wrongdoing by any member of the Trump campaign, present it to the damn grand jury,” Gowdy said. “If you have evidence that this president acted inappropriately, present it to the American people. Whatever you got, finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart.”
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