Department of Justice Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed Northern District of Illinois U.S. Attorney John Lausch to oversee the delivery of more than 1.2 million documents demanded by Congress from the FBI. Congressional investigators claim the FBI has ‘slow-walked’ the release of the information needed for the lawmakers’ investigation and some lawyers are saying the DOJ’s appointment is nothing but “political theater” to avoid contempt of Congress.
Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray made the decision to tap Lausch over the weekend after a subpoena deadline imposed by Congress on Justice Department Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein passed without action.
President Trump also pressured the DOJ to turn over the documents on Saturday tweeting that the DOJ was “slow-walking” the requests to Congress related to the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to send classified information.
“Lawmakers of the House Judiciary Committee are angrily accusing the Department of Justice of missing the Thursday Deadline for turning over un-redacted Documents relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more,” the president said on Twitter.
Lawmakers with the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee said they were becoming increasingly frustrated by the DOJ and Bureau, which has stonewalled them for more than four months on the document requests. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, threatened Saturday that there was a good possibility that the DOJ’s failure to comply with the subpoena will lead to a contempt of Congress and possible replacement of Rosenstein. Congress has received roughly 3,162 documents of the 1.2 million documents obtained by the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz in the investigation into the FBI.
Meadows, who was on Fox News Judge Jeanine Saturday, told the Fox News anchor if Rosenstein “does not turn over the documents there are a growing number of us on Capitol Hill who believes that someone else needs to do the job. Constitutionally we have some things that we can do.” Meadows said Monday it is “window dressing to avoid a contempt of congress proceeding.”
Joe DiGenova, founding partner of the Washington, D.C. law firm of diGenova & Toensing and who was considered until recently to represent Trump said the DOJ’s decision to appoint Lausch is political theater.
“I think the problem with the production of the documentation is adding too much supervision,” said DiGenova regarding the appointment of Lausch. “This is all political theater and trying to prevent contempt of Congress. This is all designed to get (House Speaker) Paul Ryan not to agree to contempt and an attempt to delay production of the documents until the November election, hoping the Republican’s lose the House.
DiGenova said Wray and Rosenstein are responsible for the delays and should be held in contempt.
The FBI is also expecting to produce 3,600 pages of additional material Monday requested by the House Judiciary Committee.
The selection of Lausch, who was appointed by President Trump, is a significant development. He has experience both with the DOJ and in private practice and “will ensure that production moves at an acceptable pace and that any redactions are necessary and consistent with the relevant laws and regulations. He will have independent authority to oversee this production and report progress to the Attorney General.”
Isgur Flores noted that Lausch “will also be available to meet with members of Congress to discuss the redaction process to ensure that they remain confident in the Department’s efforts to be as transparent as possible with the Committee.”
Isgur Flores said the majority of that material was not relevant to the FBI’s investigation and “because the Office of the Inspector General is part of the Department of Justice, in response to the IG’s request, the internal production to the IG included all communications between or among certain employees for a specified date range, regardless of the content of such communications.”
She also noted the “documents include grand jury material, the disclosure of which is prohibited by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), classified information, and information about unrelated and ongoing investigations that must be redacted in order to preserve the integrity of other investigations and to avoid the appearance of political influence in criminal prosecutions.”