The House of Representatives and the Department of Justice are locked in a high-stakes game of demands, threats, and the exercise of power as the DOJ continues to buck the House’s constitutional right of oversight over its operations put in place by the Framers 242 years ago.
At issue are DOJ records demanded by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes in connection with the FBI informant that was used to spy on several Trump campaign advisers.
The Committee Chairman and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein have argued over the production of DOJ documents related to the so-called “Steele dossier” as well as the FBI and Justice Department’s applications for secret surveillance warrants (FISA warrants) against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
In the latest explosive exchange by the Justice Department, Rosenstein threatened to use the powers of the Department of Justice (the FBI) to investigate the individual lawmakers and their staff who he feels have cast aspersions on him and his character in response to his steadfast refusal to comply with document requests, demands, and subpoenas.
Fox News’ Catherine Herrige broke the story Tuesday:
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to “subpoena” emails, phone records and other documents from lawmakers and staff on a Republican-led House committee during a tense meeting earlier this year, according to emails reviewed by Fox News documenting the encounter and reflecting what aides described as a “personal attack.”
The emails memorialized a January 2018 closed-door meeting involving senior FBI and Justice Department officials as well as members of the House Intelligence Committee. The account claimed Rosenstein threatened to turn the tables on the committee’s inquiries regarding the Russia probe.
“The DAG [Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein] criticized the Committee for sending our requests in writing and was further critical of the Committee’s request to have DOJ/FBI do the same when responding,” the committee’s then-senior counsel for counterterrorism Kash Patel wrote to the House Office of General Counsel. “Going so far as to say that if the Committee likes being litigators, then ‘we [DOJ] too [are] litigators, and we will subpoena your records and your emails,’ referring to HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] and Congress overall.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported:
One source familiar with the situation says that Rosenstein’s decision to recommend a committee investigation is retribution for the Fox News article.
“The new threat from Rosenstein to complain to House general counsel about a months old meeting makes no sense except as retaliation for this story getting out,” the source told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The provocative move by Rosenstein was met with a call of ‘foul’ by many legal and political experts.
Late Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared on Fox News’ Tucker Carlton tonight, and offered a full-throated defense of Rosenstein.
“I’m confident that Deputy Rosenstein – 28 years at the Department of Justice – did not improperly threaten anyone on that occaission,” Sessions said to a bewildered-looking Carlson. “But we do believe that we have tried to be co-operative with them and made progress as the months have gone by. In fact, we’ve had some good relationships with top members of Congress,” he concluded.
Later that same night, Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH-04) and Mark Meadows (R-NC-05) appeared on Fox News’ Ingraham Angle with conservative firebrand Laura Ingraham (who is also an attorney).
“I’m almost flabbergasted,” Jordan told Ingraham after listening Atty Gen Jeff Sessions’ defense of his Deputy, Rosenstein.
“Today we learned in [Fox News’ Catherine Herridge’s] report that the head of the, in essence the head of the Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein, was threatening members of the House Intelligence Committee for doing their job, for trying to get answers for the American people, and the attorney general says ‘That’s okay, we’re doing just fine?’”
“Are you kidding me?” Jordan said.
“For the attorney general to say he’s confident that Rod Rosenstein did everything right, well, I’m confident he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Meadows quipped sardonically. “We’re fed up with it.”
The conservative duo said they would file their resolution Wednesday and call for a vote in Congress to urge Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee.
“It’s all about compelling DOJ to turn over documents so that we can do proper oversight. If they have nothing to hide, turn over the documents,” Meadows said.
“It’s one thing for us to say, it’s one thing for the chairman to subpoena, it’s another thing if the House of Representatives would actually go on record and say, ‘Mr. Rosenstein, we as the House, a majority of the House, say you’re not giving us the information we need,’” Jordan said.
Watch the segment with Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows:
Wednesday, Reps Jordan and Meadows made good on their promise and file their Resolution with the House Clerk.