Issa Accuses Justice Dept. Officials of ‘Lying Through Their Teeth’
Former House Oversight Committee chairman accuses DOJ of political motives in noncompliance with lawmakers' subpoenas
Department of Justice officials are “lying through their teeth” while “slow-walking” congressional document requests until after the 2018 midterm elections, “in the hopes that the Democrats will take over the House or the Senate,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) claimed on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Issa, former chairman and still a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, rebuked DOJ and FBI officials for refusing to cooperate fully and in a timely manner with lawmakers’ repeated requests and subpoenas for documents.
“The reality is [that the documents] are being slow-walked until after the election, in the hopes that the Democrats will take over the House or the Senate, and then the investigations will be covered up,” Issa warned. “No question in my mind that this would be something that would just go away if we lose the gavel.”
Out of 1.2 million documents requested, Issa said that the DOJ and FBI have turned over only 9,000 of them. Issa noted that “the best ones come last,” too.
Among other topics, congressional investigators are seeking documents regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications to spy on at least one of President Donald Trump's former campaign advisers, Carter Page, and the beginning of the probe into allegations of Trump-Russia collusion to defeat Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the present chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) met with top intelligence community officials last week to discuss their quest for subpoenaed documents after DOJ ignored the two chairmen's letters, sent last month.
"It is very, very, very much a tradition at Department of Justice to come in, tell Congress what they need to hear, lie to them if necessary, and then hope they don't get caught on their watch," Issa warned.
When asked if he believed the intelligence officials were telling the truth and giving honest answers to Gowdy and Nunes, Issa replied, "No I don't. I believe they are lying through their teeth."
"If they want to get to the truth, that's what they do, is they make all the documents available unredacted, give our investigators who have clearances the opportunity to sift through," Issa said.
But the DOJ and FBI have a terrible track record of responding to requests for documents and subpoenas, Issa said, noting that it often takes inspectors general investigations, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation, and federal judges to force them to comply. But lawmakers "still don't have the whole truth" when it comes to key issues in the Benghazi and "Fast and Furious" scandals.
"We as the oversight, if you will, of that branch cannot and should not trust them. We should demand the transparency that we're entitled to."
"I think the important thing is it is very clear that we are being asked to trust the Department of Justice, who we know did in fact use a law that allows them to spy, but lied to get the warrants, lied to a federal judge under the FISA Act," Issa said, referring to the Page surveillance warrant requests.
"And now we're asked to believe that you can trust the very people ... who know this and are covering it up?" Issa continued. "We as the oversight, if you will, of that branch cannot and should not trust them. We should demand the transparency that we're entitled to."