Various committees of the House of Representatives have gone round and round with the leadership of the FBI and Department of Justice, specifically Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, over a perceived deliberate lack of compliance with repeated requests for the production of certain documents related to particular investigations.
Many conservative lawmakers have accused Rosenstein of being a “deep state” swamp creature hack that is purposefully hiding or withholding those documents in order to cover up criminal misdeeds or embarrassing examples of political bias or incompetence at the DOJ and FBI.
Of course, Rosenstein has denied that he is hiding or withholding anything without valid reason — such as the need to keep sensitive information relevant to ongoing investigations, sealed indictments, subpoenas and warrants under wraps for the time being — and has vowed to cooperate with all Congressional requests to the best of his ability.
But it would appear that House Republicans have grown tired of the dance with Rosenstein and are prepared to impose a drastic deadline upon him, one that could very well cost him his career if he continues to fail to comply with their demands for all requested documents, according to reporter Sara Carter.
In a 15-11 party-line vote on Tuesday in the House Judiciary Committee, a resolution was advanced that would give Rosenstein only seven more days to comply with Congressional requests, lest he faces a possible impeachment or being held in contempt of Congress.
The clock will start ticking on Rosenstein as soon as the resolution is brought to the House floor on Thursday and passes a vote by all members.
(According to C-SPAN video coverage of the vote, the resolution passed along party lines with a vote of 224-184 in favor of imposing a seven-day deadline on the DOJ to hand over requested documents to the various House committees.)
“If (the DOJ) don’t comply with the resolution they know the remedies the House has, contempt and impeachment,” Republican South Carolina Rep. Jim Jordan said. Jordan is one of those who has been highly critical of Rosenstein in their near year-long battle over document requests.
“If we don’t get that information entitled to us, everybody knows that we’ll do what we have to do to get it done,” he added, obviously implying that Rosenstein faced contempt and impeachment if he continued to stonewall their fact-finding efforts.
The resolution was co-authored by Jordan and Republican North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, who also serves as chair of the House Freedom Caucus and has been similarly critical of Rosenstein over the past several months.
Jordan and Meadows have also been joined in their threats of contempt and impeachment of Rosenstein by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, who has expressed great frustration at the failure of the DOJ to turn over requested documents to aid his own committee’s investigations.
It is worth noting that the resolution contains no specific mention of punishment for Rosenstein’s failure to comply with the seven-day time limit, July 6, but it does make obvious that Jordan and other lawmakers have grown impatient and are prepared to take the next drastic steps toward forcing the compliance they seek.
It must also be pointed out that it isn’t just committee members or House Freedom Caucus members who are ready to hold Rosenstein to account, as even House Speaker Paul Ryan — who has been more circumspect with regard to the battle between House committees and the DOJ — told reporters Tuesday that contempt and impeachment were definitely on the table as viable options.
Ryan stated, “We do expect full compliance very, very soon, and if we do not get that then we will keep every single option available to us.”
It remains to be seen if Rosenstein will bow to the pressure exerted by the House and turn over each and every document requested by the various committees, or if he is even able to do so if he wanted, as some may need to be legitimately withheld due to ongoing investigations and other internal matters.
Regardless, it has been made abundantly clear that the House has run out of patience and Rosenstein has run out of time. The ball is now in his court and the next move is up to him.
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