In a new letter, the Justice Department directly pushed back on the prospect of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) obtaining key details from ongoing investigations in the course of his own investigative work while part of the new Republican majority in the House.
Jordan will be leading the House Judiciary Committee for the next roughly two years, and he has evidently already been in contact with federal authorities about information requests. Jordan will also be leading a subcommittee under that panel dealing with the so-called weaponization of the federal government, which is right-wing shorthand for investigations that Trump and his Republican allies don’t like. “Longstanding Department policy prevents us from confirming or denying the existence of pending investigations in response to congressional requests or providing non-public information about our investigations,” the new letter from the Justice Department said.
The missive referenced a series of justifying factors centering in large part on problems that could emerge from private details of an investigation reaching the public or even just those affected by it. “The Department’s mission to independently and impartially uphold the rule of law requires us to maintain the integrity of our investigations, prosecutions, and civil actions, and to avoid even a perception that our efforts are influenced by anything but the law and the facts,” the letter asserted. Allowing for input by any political source, including the Republicans on the judiciary panel, could complicate the well-established effort at the Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland to keep its work non-political. The department communication to Jordan also referenced protecting witnesses and law enforcement agents in addition to averting the prospect of targeted individuals taking off.
The letter was from Carlos Uriarte, who leads the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Justice Department, which as its name suggests handles communications between the department and figures in the legislative branch. Uriarte was also open to department officials of an appropriate rank eventually appearing for testimony. Elsewhere in the House, Republicans recently opted to put members including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar on the Oversight Committee, leading to concerns from Biden administration spokesperson Ian Sams about how the extremism these figures represent may affect the course of investigations undertaken by the committee. With “these members joining the Oversight Committee, it appears that House Republicans may be setting the stage for divorced-from-reality political stunts, instead of engaging in bipartisan work on behalf of the American people,” Sams recently stated.