By Mark Tapscott
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and 18 other Republican members of the panel instructed White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and FBI Director Christopher Wray “to preserve all documents, communications or other information” on the Aug. 9 Mar-a-Lago raid.
The instruction came in separate Aug. 15 letters that spelled out in detail what is to be preserved and left no doubt that, should Republicans regain control of the House in November’s election, they will make it a top priority to expose in a comprehensive manner details of the raid on former President Donald Trump’s private Florida estate.
The official justification for the raid, according to the search warrant made public on Aug. 12, is that Trump is suspected of possessing highly sensitive classified materials taken from the White House when he left it in January 2021. The affidavit filed in federal court in connection with the search warrant request has yet to be made public.
“You should construe this communication as an instruction to preserve all documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata, that are or may be potentially responsive to this inquiry,” the Republicans said in their letters.
“This instruction includes all electronic messages sent using official and personal accounts or devices, including records created using text messages, phone-based message applications, or encryption software,” the letters continued.
“For purposes of this request, ‘preserve’ includes taking reasonable steps to prevent the partial or full destruction, alteration, testing, deletion, shredding, incineration, wiping, relocation, migration, theft, mutation, or negligent or reckless handling that could render the information incomplete or inaccessible,” the letters said.
In the meantime, Jordan and his Republican colleagues on the House committee with oversight authority for the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the FBI, directed Klain, Garland, and Wray to produce no later than Aug. 29 a lengthy list of documents and related materials already in existence.
Calling the raid “a shocking escalation of the Biden Administration’s weaponization of law-enforcement resources against its political opponents,” Jordan and the Republicans said “the American people deserve transparency and accountability from our most senior law-enforcement officials in the executive branch. We will settle for nothing but your complete cooperation with our inquiry.”
Among the issues covered by the requests are how the execution of the raid was planned, whether the FBI had a plant within the Mar-a-Lago estate, and communications between DOJ, the Executive Office of the President, and the National Archives and Records Administration.
A spokesman for the DOJ did not respond to a request for comment.
The letters also suggest that House Judiciary Republicans will pursue a lengthy list of oversight probes in addition to the Mar-a-Lago affair because “under the Biden Administration, the Justice Department has shattered public confidence in the equal application of justice.”
The letter pointed out that the DOJ “has filed politically motivated lawsuits against Republican-led states on policies disfavored by the Biden Administration, artificially inflated domestic violent extremism statistics to advance the Biden Administration’s political narrative, used counterterrorism resources to target parents at school board meetings opposed to policies supported by the Biden Administration, and selectively prosecuted and investigated political opponents of the Biden Administration. These actions not only undermine the stated mission of the Department, they violate the most fundamental tenets of our country.”
Jordan recently revealed that a number of whistleblowers from the DOJ have described to Judiciary Republicans how top leaders of the department pressure employees to inflate data to make the problem of “domestic violent extremism” seem much more widespread than is actually the case.
Whatever its actual justification, the Mar-a-Lago raid has become within a few days of its execution a white-hot point of contention between Democrats and Republicans. Typical among the Democrats, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) issued a statement following the search warrant being made public in which he claimed that “while we do not know all the details, it is clear that, through negligence or malice, the actions of the former President present a significant risk to the national security of our country.” Himes is a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.
On the Republican side, Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) told The Epoch Times the raid is evidence that “this is our government run amok and without constraints, and we have to rein it in. This seems like it’s a huge overreach. It rings of weaponization for political purposes of law enforcement.”
Instructing the principal players in the Mar-a-Lago raid to preserve all relevant documents, communications, and other information is the most significant response Judiciary panel Republicans can mount as long as they are in the minority.
The Judiciary committee itself is deeply divided, as seen in the American Conservative Union’s (ACU) ratings for how each of the 25 Democrats and 19 Republicans on the panel voted in 2021.
The average rating for the Democrats is 4.72, compared to 91 for the Republicans. The Democrats’ highest-rated judiciary panel members, according to the ACU, are Reps. Val Demmings (D-Fla.), Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), and Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), each with a 10. Three Democrats on the panel were rated zeroes by the ACU—Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Deborah Ross (D-N.C.), and Cori Bush (D-Mo.)
Among the Republicans, Jordan and six of his colleagues on the panel received ratings of 100 from the ACU. They were Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Greg Steube (R-Fla.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), and Dan Bishop (R-N.C.).
Former House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is the lowest-rated GOP member of the judiciary panel, according to the ACU, with a score of 76.