The department denied the House Judiciary Committee chair’s demands for access to information on President Biden because it would ‘risk jeopardizing’ investigations.
The Department of Justice sent a letter on Monday to Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, the chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary, warning that requests from the committee for "non-public information" concerning the investigation into classified documents found at the residence and a former office of President Joe Biden could jeopardize ongoing investigations and create the appearance of improper political pressure.
The day after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Jan. 12 that the Justice Department had named a special counsel to investigate the matter,
Jordan sent a letter to the department requesting information on the investigation, including information that has not been publicly disclosed. The existence of the letter was first revealed by Fox News in what it called an "exclusive" report.
In its response, signed by Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte, the department says that its "longstanding policy is to maintain the confidentiality of such information regarding open matters. This policy protects the American people's interest in the evenhanded, dispassionate, and effective administration of justice."
The letter continues:
Disclosing non-public information about ongoing investigations could violate statutory requirements or court orders, reveal road maps of our investigations, and interfere with the Department's ability to gather facts, interview witnesses, and bring criminal prosecutions where warranted. Maintaining confidentiality also safeguards the legal rights, personal safety, and privacy interests of individuals implicated by, or who assist in, our investigations. … Disclosures to Congress about active investigations risk jeopardizing those investigations and creating the appearance that Congress may be exerting improper political pressure or attempting to influence Department decisions in certain cases.
Since narrowly winning the majority in the House in the 2022 midterm elections, congressional Republicans have emphasized investigations into Biden and his family over other national issues.
Fox News has frequently been a venue for manufacturing and amplifying attacks on Democrats within the conservative movement and the Republican Party. The network played a significant role throughout 2022 in spreading right-wing talking points that pushed crime as a key issue, dovetailing with Republican campaigning around it.
Jordan has been associated with those promoting conspiracy theories that attack Democrats and boost Republicans, as have other prominent Republicans now holding the majority on the Judiciary Committee, among them Reps. Matt Gaetz (FL), Darrell Issa (CA), and Andy Biggs (AZ).
While Republicans have criticized Biden since the discovery of classified documents that should have been in the custody of the National Archives, Biden's response has differed significantly from the way former President Donald Trump, a longtime ally of Jordan, acted when classified documents were found at his Florida home.
Biden voluntarily allowed an FBI search of his property for possible additional documents, while the agency had to secure a warrant for a search of Mar-a-Lago in August 2022.
Public opinion polls have shown a majority believe Biden has cooperated with document investigations, while a majority of respondents say Trump has not.
The emphasis by Republicans on investigations of Biden over other national issues has been unpopular with the public. A Jan. 20-23 poll conducted by Navigator Research, a progressive polling firm, found that voters ranked investigating Biden and his family as the least important of six possible issues for Congress to focus on.
Only 16% ranked investigations as a top-tier issue, listing them far below other issues such as the cost of gas and groceries (62%), improving health care (31%), and immigration (29%).
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.