The Justice Department (DOJ) informed House Judiciary Committee Republicans on Monday that it could not fulfill all of their requests relating to the investigation into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, citing the department’s “longstanding policy” about ongoing matters.
The department told Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) that it would instead, per its cited policy, “maintain the confidentiality” of the open investigation, according to a letter written by Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs Carlos Uriarte and obtained by Breitbart News.
The DOJ’s letter comes in response to Jordan and Johnson requesting on January 13 various documents and communications from the department relating to documents with classified markings found at the Penn Biden Center and Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, dating back to Biden’s time as vice president and as a senator.
“It is unclear when the Department first came to learn about the existence of these documents, and whether it actively concealed this information from the public on the eve of the 2022 elections,” Jordan and Johnson wrote
The DOJ’s actions with Biden also “appear to depart from how it acted” in a similar circumstance involving former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, the congressmen added.
DOJ has assigned special counsels to both cases, though they have notable differences. Trump’s back-and-forth with the government, for instance, went on for well over a year. DOJ also ultimately executed a warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and later released a now-viral photo of some of the documents sprawled on the floor, moves that Republicans contend were gratuitous.
While Uriarte provided Jordan and Johnson with already-public detail about the timeline of the discovery of the documents in Biden’s case, he rejected most of the congressmen’s other requests.
“Your letter also requests non-public information that is central to the ongoing Special Counsel investigation,” Uriarte wrote. “The Department’s longstanding policy is to maintain the confidentiality of such information regarding open matters.”
Republicans have pointed to the White House’s general lack of transparency with the public in Biden’s case, zeroing in on the time between Biden’s attorneys first discovering documents marked “classified” on November 2 and CBS first reporting on the documents on January 9.
As Jordan, Johnson, and several other Republicans have observed, the public did not have the knowledge that the White House and DOJ did that Biden potentially had mishandled classified documents when the critical midterm elections rolled around on November 8.
“Early on, Biden’s attorneys and Justice Department investigators both thought they had a shared understanding about keeping the matter quiet,” the Washington Post noted in a report about the White House’s “strategy” for handling the document discovery, though the report did not specify exactly how “early on” the “understanding” was established.
Further complicating transparency concerns has been the subsequent discovery made December 20 of documents with classified markings at Biden’s Wilmington home, which the White House initially omitted when it first went public with the document case in January.
Jordan and Johnson’s transparency questions will remain, at present, unaddressed by the DOJ as the department argues that relevant disclosures would “risk jeopardizing” its investigation.
The DOJ wrote to the pair, “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.”
Jordan’s spokesman Russell Dye responded to the DOJ’s letter, accusing the department of “playing politics” and highlighting an additional concern raised by Republicans that the University of Pennsylvania and its affiliated Penn Biden Center have been the recipient of millions of dollars in donations originating from China, a top U.S. adversary.
“Our members are rightly concerned about the Justice Department’s double standard here, after all, some of the Biden documents were found at a think tank that’s received funds from communist China,” Dye said. “It’s concerning, to say the least, that the Department is more interested in playing politics than cooperating.”
Write to Ashley Oliver at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.