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Justice Department denies GOP request for nonpublic information on Biden docs probe

A spokesman for House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, accused the Justice Department of "playing politics" after it rejected the panel's request for additional info.
Rep. Jim Jordan R-Ohio during  a House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 14, 2022.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, at a Judiciary Committee hearing on July 14.Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images file

The Justice Department on Monday denied a request from House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan for sensitive information involving its probe into classified documents found at President Joe Biden's home and a former office.

In a letter obtained by NBC News, a top Justice Department official said the department would cooperate as much as it could but would not disclose nonpublic information about the probe.

"The Department’s longstanding policy is to maintain the confidentiality of such information regarding open matters," Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Carlos Uriarte wrote to Jordan, R-Ohio.

"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. Maintaining confidentiality also safeguards the legal rights, personal safety, and privacy interests of individuals implicated by, or who assist in, our investigations," he added.

Jordan on Jan. 13 demanded information about the discovery of Obama-era documents that had been in Biden’s possession, including all records and communications regarding the Justice Department's investigation.

A spokesperson for Jordan ripped the response.

"It’s concerning, to say the least, that the Department is more interested in playing politics than cooperating,” Russell Dye said in a statement.

A House Democratic aide said the Justice Department's response should not have been a surprise to Jordan. "Jim Jordan knew all along that he wasn’t entitled to disrupt ongoing criminal investigations. The question is whether he will clutch his pearls and pretend to be outraged or actually sit down and work with a department that seems willing to give him at least some of the information he has requested,” the aide said.

Uriarte notified Jordan this month about the Justice Department's policy regarding ongoing investigations.

"Longstanding Department policy prevents us from confirming or denying the existence of pending investigations in response to congressional requests or providing non-public information about our investigations,” Uriarte wrote at the time.

Senior Democratic lawmakers turned sharply more critical Sunday of President Joe Biden's handling of classified materials after the FBI discovered additional items with classified markings at Biden's home.
The access road to President Biden's home in Wilmington, Del., on Jan. 13, 2023. Carolyn Kaster / AP

In a separate letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee obtained Sunday by NBC News, Uriarte said the Justice Department was working with the intelligence community to provide some insight into the national security assessments that were underway in the Biden case and a separate investigation into documents former President Donald Trump had withheld from the Justice Department.

“We are working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to support the provision of information that will satisfy the Committee’s responsibilities without harming the ongoing Special Counsel investigations,” he wrote, adding that “prosecutors on both matters are actively working to enable sharing information with the Committee.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner, D-Va., told reporters Monday that the Justice Department letter did "not give us any additional guidance of when" panel members are going to get a substantive response.

Senators on the committee fumed last week after National Intelligence Director Avril Haines declined in a closed-door briefing to show them copies of the classified documents discovered at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and Biden’s office and his Delaware home.