The Department of Justice (DOJ) has rejected several of the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee’s requests to provide documents related to its investigation of President Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.
On Monday, the DOJ informed the Judiciary Committee that it could not fulfill all of their requests regarding the investigation into Biden’s classified documents scandal — citing a “longstanding policy” about providing information regarding ongoing matters.
In a letter to Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs Carlos Uriarte wrote that the DOJ would “maintain the confidentiality” of the open investigation, per its cited policy.
The letter comes in response to requests from Jordan and Johnson on January 13 for the DOJ to provide various documents and communications from the agency regarding documents with classified markings dated back to Biden’s time as vice president and senator, which were discovered in the Penn-Biden Center in Washington, D.C., and the president’s residence in Wilmington, Delaware.
“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,” the two Republican congressmen wrote.
Jordan and Johnson also pointed out that the DOJ’s actions regarding Biden’s classified documents scandal “appear to depart from how it acted” in the response to former President Donald Trump keeping supposedly classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence.
The DOJ has assigned special counsels to both cases, but there are notable difference’s between Biden’s mishandling of classified documents and Trump’s.
Breitbart News notes: “Trump’s back-and-forth with the government, for instance, went on for well over a year. DOJ also ultimately executed a warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and later released a now-viral photo of some of the documents sprawled on the floor, moves that Republicans contend were gratuitous.”
Trump was also keeping the supposedly classified material in a room that had a lock on the door provided by the FBI, in a home that was under constant guard from the Secret Service.
Meanwhile, the DOJ allowed Biden’s personal attorneys — many of whom did not have the proper security clearances — to conduct multiple searches of his home and his old office to search for classified documents. The documents were also not kept in secure locations, Biden was supposedly unaware of their existence and he did not even have the authority as vice president or U.S. senator to take these documents or declassify them, unlike Trump. The DOJ also refused to get involved in the search until several months after the first discovery and requested to be able to conduct a search of Biden’s home — rather than conducting an FBI raid, like in the case of Trump.
Uriarte provided Jordan and Johnson with already-public details regarding the timeline of the discovery of Biden’s classified documents but refused to honor most of the congressmen’s other requests.
“Your letter also requests non-public information that is central to the ongoing Special Counsel investigation,” the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legislative Affairs wrote. “The Department’s longstanding policy is to maintain the confidentiality of such information regarding open matters.”
Republicans have also condemned the White House’s complete lack of transparency regarding Biden’s classified documents scandal — pointing out that Biden’s personal attorneys had discovered the first batch of documents on November 2, right before the 2022 midterms, while the story was kept secret until it was leaked to CBS News, who reported about it on January 9.
“Early on, Biden’s attorneys and Justice Department investigators both thought they had a shared understanding about keeping the matter quiet,” the Washington Post noted in a report about the Biden administration’s “strategy” for handling the discovery of the classified documents, though the outlet did not specify exactly how “early on” the “understanding” was established.
The White House still claims that they have been transparent about the scandal, despite the fact that the second batch of documents was discovered on December 20, and the White House initially omitted that discovery when it first discussed the scandal publicly in January following CBS’ report.
Meanwhile, the DOJ has refused to address many of the concerns and questions of Jordan and Johnson, claiming that relevant disclosures would “risk jeopardizing” its investigation.
“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,” the DOJ wrote.
In a response to the DOJ’s letter, Jordan’s spokesman Russell Dye accused the DOJ of “playing politics.”
Dye also highlighted an additional concern of Republicans, pointing out that the University of Pennsylvania and its affiliated Penn-Biden Center — where multiple classified documents were found — have been the recipients of millions of dollars in donations originating from communist China.
“Our members are rightly concerned about the Justice Department’s double standard here, after all, some of the Biden documents were found at a think tank that’s received funds from communist China,” Dye said. “It’s concerning, to say the least, that the Department is more interested in playing politics than cooperating.”
Judiciary Republicans are rightly concerned about the Justice Department’s double standard here, after all, some of the Biden documents were found at a think tank that’s received funds from communist China. https://t.co/03PSFvP56o
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) January 30, 2023