The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday subpoenaed the Justice Department for documents related to internal DOJ and FBI decisions in the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email server, as well as potential abuses of laws governing the surveillance of members of Trump presidential campaign.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), who chairs the panel, said he has grown increasingly frustrated by the DOJ's unresponsiveness to his requests for more than 1.2 million documents related to the FBI investigation into Clinton's email.
So far the department has only produced "a fraction" of the documents both he and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) have requested, he said.
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Goodlatte said he was following up on requests from his committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform panel, which requested the documents as part of a joint investigation into allegations of liberal bias within the DOJ and FBI that impacted their internal investigation into Clinton's activities. Goodlatte said made the initial request for the documents four months ago, then again in February.
"Given the ongoing delays in producing these documents, I am left with no choice but to issue the enclosed subpoena to compel production of these documents," Goodlatte wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Goodlatte also referenced Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ firing last Friday of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility’s (OPR) recommendation that McCabe be dismissed for unauthorized leaks and demonstrating a "lack of candor" in conversations with investigators about the disclosures to the media.
The OPR recommendation, Goodlatte wrote, "appears to be based, at least in part, on events related to the investigation surrounding" Clinton’s private email server. Because of this development, Goodlatte wrote the subpoena to cover all documents and communications the OPR relied on in reaching its decision to recommend McCabe’s dismissal.
Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said Justice and the FBI are taking the committee's inquiry seriously and "are committed to accommodating its oversight request in a manner consistent with the department's law enforcement and national security priorities."
Since January, more than two dozen FBI staff have been assisting the department in producing, "on a rolling basis," documents that are "responsive" to the committee's "broad request," Prior said, noting that Justice has provided 3,000 documents of the roughly 30,000 it believes are responsive to the committees' inquiries.
"We are individually reviewing the remaining documents to ensure that they do not include grand-jury information, information about ongoing law enforcement actions involving American citizens, or privileged attorney-client communications," he said.
"The department looks forward to completing its response in as timely as manner as possible and will continue to work towards that goal," he said.
Sessions's decision to oust McCabe further inflamed partisan divisions over Justice Department decisions during the Obama administration with Democrats charging that Sessions bowed to political pressure from President Donald Trump and Republicans seizing on the OPR and inspector general investigations faulting some of his activities.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) has also complained that the DOJ has failed to provide requested documents regarding the handling of the Clinton investigations.
Grassley said this week that he planned to hold hearings on the still-unreleased inspector general report, portions of which were used to justify McCabe's firing.
The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch is also fighting a legal battle to force the FBI to release text messages McCabe exchanged with colleagues.