Republicans in the House of Representatives approved a resolution on a party-line vote Thursday demanding that the Department of Justice (DOJ) comply with congressional requests for documents and subpoenas.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has faced multiple deadlines and increased pressure to comply with congressional requests for information, though the agency claims it has complied. House Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) responded with a resolution demanding the agency do just that, which passed 226 to 183 along party lines.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has been seeking information since March 2017 on whether federal law was abused to spy on President Donald Trump’s campaign. The House judiciary and oversight committees have also been reviewing the FBI’s investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official business while secretary of state. The resolution demands information for both inquiries.
“Transparency is a good thing,” Meadows said before the vote. “Transparency is what the American people deserve, and when we are talking about what it will do and what it won’t do, yes, when we get these documents, we believe it will do away with this whole fiasco of Trump and Russian collusion because there wasn’t any.”
The DOJ and FBI have moved more quickly in recent weeks, with congressional investigators issuing subpoenas and threatening to hold officials in contempt or impeach them. But Republicans say the agencies still have not released all the hundreds of thousands of documents that have been requested. The resolution is the first time the full chamber has gone on record requesting the information.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) met with the committees June 15 to discuss the stalemate with agency officials. Gowdy said the speaker made it very clear there was going to be action on the floor of the House if the agencies continue to slow-walk documents.
Ryan has also not ruled out the possibility of holding Rosenstein in contempt for slow-walking document requests. Rosenstein notably appointed Robert Mueller to lead the special counsel investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian interests.
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“If this was oversight I would be in strong support to seek production, but it is not. This is not oversight, it is collaboration with the executive masquerading as oversight,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said before the vote.
“It is oversight in the nature of not desiring an outcome, not desiring the production of documents but rather the production of a fight. The production of a pretext to give the dear president a pretext to fire Rod Rosenstein or Bob Mueller,” he said.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report June 14 on the FBI’s handling of its email investigation from 2016. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and others have pointed to the findings as evidence there is severe political bias, though its conclusion said that there wasn’t evidence that bias impacted decision-making.