The Justice Department on Monday is expected to name Chicago’s top federal prosecutor, US attorney John Lausch, to oversee the FBI’s production of documents to the House Judiciary Committee, after President Donald Trump angrily accused it of “stalling” the release.
Multiple media outlets reported last week that the Justice Department had missed a subpoena deadline to provide the House Judiciary Committee with documents related to an array of issues Thursday. CNN reported on Friday, however, that the department plans to give the committee 1,000 pages of information on Monday.
On Twitter Saturday, Trump accused the department of slow-walking “documents relating to FISA abuse,” Hillary Clinton’s emails, former FBI Director James Comey and others, and asked what it and the FBI “have to hide.”
Pace of production
Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores told CNN that the Attorney General and FBI director understood Trump’s concerns:
“The Attorney General and FBI Director 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,” Flores said in a statement.
“They agree that the Department and the FBI should accommodate the Committee’s request in a timely fashion and in the fullest manner consistent with the Department’s law enforcement and national security responsibilities.
“Over the weekend, the Attorney General and FBI Director asked US Attorney John Lausch from the Northern District of Illinois to oversee this production moving forward,” she added. “On Monday, the FBI will be producing 3,600 pages of additional material requested by the House Judiciary Committee.”
Lausch will oversee document production, report progress to the Attorney General and discuss the redaction process with members of Congress, Flores said in the statement.
“By appointing Mr. Lausch to oversee this specific document production, our goal is to assure Congress, the President, and the American people that the FBI is going to produce the relevant documents and will do so completely and with integrity and professionalism,” Flores said.
Trump tweeted Saturday about House Judiciary lawmakers’ complaints that the Department of Justice had missed a deadline to turn over key documents.
“Lawmakers of the House Judiciary Committee are angrily accusing the Department of Justice of missing the Thursday Deadline for turning over UNREDACTED Documents relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more,” Trump wrote. “Slow walking – what is going on? BAD!”
“What does the Department of Justice and FBI have to hide?” Trump asked in a follow-up tweet. “Why aren’t they giving the strongly requested documents (unredacted) to the HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE? Stalling, but for what reason? Not looking good!”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced in March that he had subpoenaed the Department of Justice for information relating to “charging decisions in the investigation surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommendation to fire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.”
After the subpoena had been issued, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that he would double the number of FBI staff charged with responding to House Republicans’ various requests for information. Wray acknowledged in a statement that “the current pace of production is too slow.”
The Justice Department said last month that about 3,000 documents had been produced since January.
Last year, the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced a joint investigation into the conduct of the Justice Department in 2016. The announcement referenced a series of controversial actions taken by the FBI, including the bureau’s handling of the Clinton email probe.