President Trump again criticized the Justice Department on Monday, saying the agency’s production of documents to Congress is an “embarrassment to our country!”
Trump made the statement after tweeting about unrelated topics — including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the news media and Amazon.
“So sad that the Department of ‘Justice’ and the FBI are slow walking, or even not giving, the unredacted documents requested by Congress,” Trump wrote, putting “Justice” in quotation marks. “An embarrassment to our country!”
The president probably was referencing a brewing controversy over a request from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee for documents related to some of the Justice Department’s most controversial investigations and decisions.
The chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), issued a subpoena to the department last month, claiming that officials were taking too long to turn over the materials he requested. Goodlatte and other lawmakers have been seeking documents about the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, the investigation of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and the firing of Andrew McCabe from the FBI.
Trump has repeatedly lambasted the Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he picked to lead the agency. The president remains upset that Sessions recused himself from the investigation of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election — an inquiry that is now being led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Sessions was a key figure in Trump’s campaign, and has said that he had no choice but to recuse himself from the investigation.
A Justice Department spokeswoman referred questions to the FBI, which declined to comment. The Justice Department told Goodlatte in a letter last week that the FBI had most of the documents he sought, and that it was working with the bureau to comply.
The letter, signed by Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd, said department officials had to review materials to make sure they did not include grand jury information, information about ongoing law enforcement actions or confidential attorney-client communications, and asserted that even when redactions were made, congressional staff members were allowed to review the original documents, if that was deemed appropriate.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray revealed around the same time that the bureau would double, from 27 to 54, the number of staff members working on Goodlatte’s request, which would allow employees to cover two shifts per day, from 8 a.m. to midnight.
“I agree that the current pace of production is too slow,” Wray said in a statement.