The Justice Department told Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio on Monday that it will not provide most of the information he requested about the ongoing special counsel investigation into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified material until that probe is complete, according to a new letter obtained by CNN.
In the letter, DOJ reiterates that it will uphold its longstanding practice of withholding information that could endanger or compromise ongoing investigations, specifically citing regulations in special counsel probes.
Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, has demanded access to a host of documents related to the Biden special counsel 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. Judgments about whether and how to pursue a matter are, and must remain, the exclusive responsibility of the Department,” the DOJ letter states.
DOJ also states in the letter that “disclosing non-public information about ongoing investigations could violate statutory requirements or court orders, reveal roadmaps for our investigations, and interfere with the Department’s ability to gather facts, interview witnesses and bring criminal prosecutions where warranted.”
House Republicans have made clear they plan to examine the Justice Department’s handling of politically sensitive probes, including its role in the ongoing special counsel investigations related to the handling of classified material by Biden and former President Donald Trump.
Jordan has asked the department to produce documents related to the appointment of Robert Hur as special counsel in the Biden documents probe as well as the selection of Trump-appointed US Attorney John Lausch to lead the initial review of the case, in addition to a broad array of internal and external communications about the matter.
DOJ’s latest response raises the question of whether Jordan will now move to issue subpoenas for the documents in question, something he told CNN last week he would consider doing if the department refused to hand them over.
“We’ll see, but we’re definitely looking at asking for documents via subpoena,” he said. “But we don’t know whether that will happen yet.”
Jordan spokesperson Russell Dye responded to Monday’s letter by saying, “It’s concerning, to say the least, that the Department is more interested in playing politics than cooperating.”
In a letter sent to Jordan earlier this month, the DOJ also signaled it’s unlikely to share information about ongoing criminal investigations with the new GOP-controlled House but noted it would respond to the Judiciary Committee chairman’s request related to the Biden special counsel probe separately.
Together, both letters provide an early sign of the hurdles Jordan is likely to face, particularly as he tries to investigate the Justice Department and the FBI. They also underscore how the appointment of a special counsel has further complicated matters for Republican lawmakers seeking to launch their own probes into Biden’s handling of classified documents.
House Republicans have been especially eager to dig into the Justice Department’s ongoing probes, even authorizing a Judiciary subcommittee tasked with investigating the purported “weaponization” of the federal government, including “ongoing criminal investigations.”