WASHINGTON — The Justice Department offered House Republicans few details about its ongoing probe into classified documents found at President Biden’s home and personal office in its latest response to requests from the House Judiciary Committee, which has vowed to investigate whether politics have compromised recent federal law enforcement investigations.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, announced earlier this month the creation of a Republican-led subcommittee that would be empowered to investigate any federal agency that collects information about Americans, even in cases of ongoing criminal investigations.

Democrats charged that such requests are an unprecedented breach of protocol on criminal probes and national security matters. Jordan and other top Republicans have slammed the mounting criminal investigations into former president Donald Trump as partisan and corrupt.

The Monday letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post, marked the Justice Department’s second response to the House Judiciary Committee and is probably illustrative of tense future correspondences between the two government bodies: The committee asks the Justice Department for undisclosed details about ongoing investigations, and the agency responds that long-standing policy prevents it from sharing those details.

“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,” read the Monday letter from Carlos Uriarte, assistant attorney general for the Office of Legislative Affairs. “Maintaining confidentiality also safeguards the legal rights, personal safety, and privacy interests of individuals implicated by, or who assist in our investigations.”

On Jan. 13, Jordan and Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., requested that Attorney General Merrick Garland hand over any documents and communications related to the appointment of the special counsel, Robert Hur, who is heading the day-to-day operations of the Biden document probe. They also requested all documents and communications between federal law enforcement and Biden’s personal and White House attorneys, among others.


In addition to explaining why the Justice Department believes it is restricted from sharing those materials, Uriate provided in his Monday response a previously disclosed timeline of what led to the appointment of Hur as special counsel on Jan. 12.

On Nov. 4, the National Archives Office of Inspector General contacted the Justice Department to inform them that classified materials were discovered at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Northwest Washington, according to the timeline laid out in the letter and provided earlier by Garland. The FBI started looking into the matter and, on Nov. 14, Garland asked U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. to conduct an initial investigation and determine whether a special counsel should be appointed.

On Jan. 5, Lausch recommended that Garland appoint a special counsel. A week later, Garland appointed Hur.

The Justice Department previously responded to a Jan. 17 request from Jordan that had asked for documents related to the court-authorized search of Mar-a-Lago.

Jordan had also requested in that Jan. 17 letter specific names and titles of FBI, U.S. attorney’s office, and National Security Division employees involved in carrying out Garland and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray’s directives that instructed the FBI to coordinate with local leaders to address threats against school officials.

Uriate and the Justice Department had attempted to strike a cooperative tone in that initial response and said their approach to the oversight committee’s requests would be largely consistent with the policy of previous administrations.

In the Jan. 20 response, Uriarte said the Justice Department “refrains from making line agents and line attorneys available for congressional testimony or interviews” with the committee, in line with the department’s long-standing policy to protect the privacy and safety of individuals who are working on investigations.

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