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Fireworks as Jim Jordan and Rod Rosenstein Spar Over Documents

Rod Rosenstein, Jim Jordan
AP Photos/ Andrew Harnik

“Mr. Rosenstein, why are you keeping information from Congress?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, setting off a fiery and contentious interview that saw both men slinging barbs at each other.

Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray were on Capitol Hill to testify about the DOJ Inspector General’s report on the Hillary Clinton email investigations. In this hearing, timed to take place just as the House was set to vote on a resolution “insisting” that Department of Justice comply with congressional requests for documents and subpoenas, Jordan cut off Rosenstein’s calm denial to the charge, saying, “I think in a few minutes, the House of Representatives is going to go on record saying you haven’t complied … and you’ve got seven days to get your act together.”

Jordan then launched into a stream of accusations, cutting off the Deputy Attorney General several times and drawing points of order from Democrats on the committee. He told Rosenstein that “we have caught you hiding information,” and alleged Rosenstein hid the fact disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok and U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras, who oversaw the trial of former National Security Adviser Micheal Flynn, were “friends.”

Rosenstein, visibly growing more incensed, began, “I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to respond. I’ve heard you make those sort of allegations publicly, on TV,” before Jordan again cut him off.

“Now Mr. Jordan, I am the deputy attorney general of the United States. Okay? I’m not the person doing the redacting,” Rosenstein replied to Jordan’s accusation.

“I have a team with me sir, it’s just a fraction of the team that’s doing this work, and whenever you brought issues to my attention, I’ve taken appropriate steps to remedy them. So your statement that I’m personally keeping information from you …,” Rosenstein continued before Jordan interjected, “You’re the boss, Mr. Rosenstein.”

Rosenstein pointed to his appointment of U.S. Attorney John Lausch to oversee the production and review of the potentially millions of documents Congress has requested.”My understanding is it’s going very well sir,” Rosenstein told Jordan, who again pointed to the upcoming House vote.

“Your use of this to attack me personally is deeply wrong,” Rosenstein shot back at Jordan, who insisted, “It’s not personal.”

After another string of attacks, in which Jordan accused Rosenstein of instructing Strzok not to answer Congress’s questions, which Rosenstein denied repeatedly, the deputy AG responded, “Mr. Jordan I appreciate your saying it isn’t personal, sometimes it feels that way.”

Things got even more heated when Jordan revived a Fox News report that Rosenstein had “threatened” House Intelligence Committee staffers when he allegedly told them that if they proceeded with contempt charges, the Justice Department could subpoena the staffers’ records in the course of that litigation.

“Media reports indicate you did,” Jordan said, to which Rosenstein immediately replied, “Media reports are mistaken.”

“Did you threaten to subpoena their calls and emails?” Jordan then asked Rosenstein, who replied, “No sir. And there’s no way to subpoena phone calls,” causing some in the chamber to erupt in laughter.

When Jordan responded by repeating his litany of accusations against him, Rosenstein quipped, “Thank you for making it clear it’s not personal, Mr. Jordan.”

This very public and unusual confrontation stems from an ongoing dispute over the Justice Department’s production of documents related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation, the Foreign Intelligence Survaillence Court’s authorization to intercept Carter Page’s communications, and other controversial matters. Many of these documents are privileged, classified, or otherwise against policy to release, making it necessary to review huge swaths of information before it is sent to Congress according to requests.

Jordan has been one of the most vocal and aggressive Republicans in voicing his dissatisfaction with DOJ’s responsiveness and Rosenstein personally, issuing demanding letters and threatening the deputy attorney general with impeachment.

“If you’re interested in the truth, Mr. Jordan, the truth is we have a team of folks, they’re Trump appointees and career folks, and they’re doing their best to produce these documents,” Rosenstein said Thursday in his defense. “Director Wray explained the process to you, he has hundreds of people working around the clock trying to satisfy these requests.”

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