Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) warned Tuesday of “consequences well beyond contempt of Congress” if Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI officials continue withholding documents in defiance of the subpoena issued by Congress. The documents relate to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server.
Meadows didn’t specify what those consequences would be, but Congress does have constitutional authority to jail or fine individuals who defy congressional subpoenas to produce documents or provide testimony. The last time Congress jailed an individual for defying a subpoena was 1935.
“You know, it would just take one simple phone call from the deputy attorney general to Michael Horowitz, who has all these documents, who’s testified under oath that it’s not a problem to give it to Congress and it wouldn’t impede his investigation,” said Meadows (pictured above right). “Make that phone call today. If not, there will be consequences well beyond contempt of Congress.”
Horowitz is DOJ’s Inspector General. He has been investigating the department’s conduct on the Clinton and related issues for months and has most, if not all, of the documents sought by Congress.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray appointed U.S. Attorney John Lausch of the Northern District of Illinois Monday to speed efforts to deliver the estimated 1.2 million documents sought for months ago by the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions and Wray “understand the concerns of members of Congress and the president about the pace of production and level of redactions in the documents already received by the committee.”
But Meadows, who is chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and other lawmakers have run out of patience with the slow production and massive redactions made in the few documents they have received thus far.
“I don’t feel for [Flores]. And let me just tell you, I’m tired of the excuses,” Meadows said Tuesday on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “I can tell you it’s more spin.”
“And here is what we do know. I sent a letter to the attorney general outlining 10 redactions of material facts. Not just names here or there, but material facts that the DOJ and FBI are hiding from Congress,” Meadows continued. “And when that happens, enough is enough. Let’s get the documents. Let’s do it this week. And if this attorney general and deputy attorney general can’t do it, let’s find two who will.”
Flores said in statement earlier that “Lausch will also be available to meet with members of Congress to discuss the redaction process to ensure that they remain confident in the department’s efforts to be as transparent as possible with the committee.”
But Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said they would not be satisfied until they receive the unredacted documents that Horowitz has already reviewed in his parallel investigation into the department’s handling of the Clinton issues.
“[Flores] talked about getting the redactions right. How about this? How about just giving the information to us in an unredacted form?” said Jordan (pictured above left).
Jordan argued that there is a marked “double standard” between how the DOJ and FBI treated the investigations into Clinton and the Russian collusion investigation into Trump and his campaign officials.
“Yesterday we had the FBI raid the president’s attorney’s residence and his business and got information that’s privileged information,” Jordan said. “Yet when Hillary Clinton had 60-some thousand emails … they got to decide on the front end.”
Jordan said that Clinton and her associates “got to decide which [emails] were personal, which ones they got to keep and ultimately destroy, and which ones they gave back to the taxpayers, gave back to the government.”
“So what a double standard we see. Why don’t you just give us the information … that we have asked for?” Jordan asked.
Meadows noted that the House committee set deadlines for this week for the DOJ and FBI to deliver the subpoenaed documents. If they fail to turn over the documents, Meadows warned that “there will be consequences.”