It’s been more than two months since the chairman of a major Senate oversight committee sent a pointed request for information about the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation to the Department of Justice (DOJ), but the agency still hasn’t responded to the lawmaker’s inquiry.
The March 1, 2018, letter from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asked eight questions about DOJ’s handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation shortly before and after the 2016 presidential election. The specific focus was on decision-making process after the discovery that a laptop owned by Anthony Weiner, who was then married to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, contained potentially classified e-mails to and from former secretary of state Clinton.
Multiple sources familiar with the matter told The Federalist that Rosenstein has yet to respond to Johnson’s inquiry. In his letter, Johnson requested a response by March 15, 2018.
The letter from Johnson included numerous texts and testimony from key figures in the ongoing saga about how DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) behaved in the Clinton e-mail and Russia investigation matters, including Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, James Baker, James Rybicki, Andrew McCabe, and James Comey.
DOJ’s refusal to respond to congressional oversight requests has become a disturbing pattern. The federal law enforcement agency regularly ignores requests, slow-walks them, or demands unnecessary redactions unrelated to privacy or national security matters. Rosenstein recently accused lawmakers of extortion after they threatened to take action against him if he continued to defy congressional requests for information about agency activities.
“They should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted,” Rosenstein said during public remarks at the Newseum last week. Article I of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress exclusive authority to create and appropriate funding for federal agencies, as well as broad authority to exercise oversight of those agencies and the conduct of officials who run them.
Several House lawmakers are also battling Rosenstein over access to documents related to the department’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, threatened to take steps to hold Rosenstein in contempt or even impeach him if Rosenstein continued to stonewall the House intel committee’s investigation of whether DOJ and the FBI abused their authority or broke the law during the course of the Russia inquiry.
“We know they have a long history of stonewalling us, and we’re well aware of it, that’s why we need to move more quickly than usual,” Nunes said earlier this week. “We’re not going to give them the opportunity to squirm around and put lies out and mislead and obfuscate like they’ve done in the past. Those days are over.”
“The only way to enforce [a congressional subpoena] would be to move quickly on contempt,” Nunes noted. “That’s why if we don’t get a resolution quickly that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment prior to this article being published.