AP FACT CHECK: Trump says Justice not releasing documents

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, June 27, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared to threaten the Justice Department and FBI in a tweet Monday, asking why the government agencies aren’t handing over documents that Congress has requested.

Although the Justice Department hasn’t fully complied with subpoenas from Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, it has already given Congress hundreds of thousands of documents. Most are related to its own handling of its probe into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails and the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation.

The department on Friday asked for more time to fulfill the requests and went into detail about how officials would do so. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said the department’s request is “reasonable.”

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A look at how his tweet compares with the facts:

TRUMP: “I have tried to stay uninvolved with the Department of Justice and FBI (although I do not legally have to), because of the now totally discredited and very expensive Witch Hunt currently going on. But you do have to ask why the DOJ & FBI aren’t giving over requested documents?”

THE FACTS: Trump’s tweet is misleading. The department has already turned over more than 800,000 documents in response to congressional subpoenas, and it has told Congress that more are coming. The department has detailed dozens of people to the effort and built new search tools to find classified items that GOP lawmakers are asking for.

Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said Saturday that the department has partially complied with the subpoenas from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees after officials turned over more than 1,000 new documents last week. House Republicans had given the Justice Department and FBI a Friday deadline for all documents.

Strong said the department asked for more time and will get it, for now.

“Our efforts have resulted in the committees finally getting access to information that was sought months ago, but some important requests remain to be completed,” Strong said in a statement. “Additional time has been requested for the outstanding items, and based on our understanding of the process we believe that request is reasonable. We expect the department to meet its full obligations to the two committees.”

Democrats have criticized the document requests, saying that they are intended to discredit the department and distract from or even undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties and whether there was obstruction of justice. That’s the “witch hunt” Trump refers to in the tweet.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, an ally of Trump’s, indicated in a terse letter sent to the Justice Department on Sunday that he is not satisfied with its efforts and asked officials to reply to him with some of the outstanding material.

Nunes, a Republican congressman from California, has complained that classified information about an FBI informant who talked to people on Trump’s Republican campaign in 2016 has only been given to congressional leaders, not the full intelligence committee. He also said the department is still responsible for a request for transcripts of conversations between confidential sources and Trump campaign officials. The department said it had referred that request to National Intelligence Director Dan Coats.

The intelligence panel “should not be required to ask ‘the magic question’ in order to obtain all relevant and responsive documents that have already been compelled,” Nunes wrote.