As criticism mounted for its delay in providing documents to multiple congressional panels on FBI investigations of the 2016 presidential election, the Department of Justice has invited committee members to review the files at its headquarters, reports The Washington Times.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd sent a letter late Friday to Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and House intelligence committee chairman, inviting the lawmakers to privately view the documents.
“The Department considers this an extraordinary accommodation based on unique facts and circumstances,” Mr. Boyd wrote. “We are also extending this review opportunity to members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Department will be in contact to arrange appropriate review sessions in the near future.”
The Justice Department missed a noon Thursday deadline to give the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform committees nearly 1.2 million documents detailing the FBI’s decisions on a variety of matters related to the election.
Those decisions included: not charging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for using a private email server; applying for and carrying out a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant for Trump campaign aide Carter Page; and the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility’s recommending that Andrew McCabe be fired as FBI deputy director.
Congress members and panels had asked for the documents in November, but when they felt the Justice Department was too slow to comply, they issued a subpoena. Despite the power of a subpoena, the Justice Department still stalled in handing over the documents.
Republicans were quick to criticize the Justice Department once the deadline passed.
“We got no documents from the Department of Justice,” tweeted Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican and a member of the oversight committee. “Just a phone call. This is unacceptable — it’s time to stop the games. Turn over the documents to Congress and allow us to conduct oversight.”
Only about 3,000 document had been turned over. Boyd blamed the delay on the sheer volume of documents and the number of necessary redactions. But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from criticising the delay.
Even President Trump joined the fray last week, using social media to accuse the Justice Department of stalling.
“So sad that the Department of ‘Justice’ and the FBI are slow walking, or even not giving, the unredacted documented requested by Congress,” the president tweeted. “An embarrassment to our country!”
The president’s tweets came just days after FBI Director Christopher A. Wray had announced that the bureau would double the number of personnel working on the Judiciary Committee’s request.
Wray said in a statement the bureau will comply with the subpoena but needed more time to produce the documents. To expedite the process, Mr. Wray ordered 54 staffers to work in two shifts from 8 a.m. to midnight.
“I agree the current pace of production is too slow,” Wray said in a statement.