The Justice Department is stifling the House Oversight Committee's inquiry of former President Donald Trump's handling of presidential documents, according to the committee's chairwoman.
Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday alleging the department's separate inquiry into the documents has prevented the National Archives and Records Administration from turning over key material to the committee.
"I write today because the Department of Justice is preventing NARA from cooperating with the Committee's request, which is interfering with the Committee's investigation," she wrote, per CNN. "By blocking NARA from producing the documents requested by the Committee, the Department is obstructing the Committee's investigation."
NATIONAL ARCHIVES ASKS DOJ TO REVIEW TRUMP WHITE HOUSE RECORD-KEEPING: REPORT
The National Archives could not fulfill some of the committee's information requests because of the DOJ's investigation over whether Trump mishandled classified documents, general counsel Gary Stern claimed. Maloney emphasized the committee "does not wish to interfere in any manner with any potential or ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice" but wants the National Archives to be allowed to cooperate with its inquiry.
The committee began its investigation last month after reports surfaced that the National Archives acquired 15 boxes from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in mid-January. Trump improperly stored the material at his resort, which included presidential material such as notes from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former President Barack Obama.
After receiving the material, archivists quickly surmised that classified material was likely included in the boxes, potentially breaking laws governing the handling of such information, and turned the matter over to the DOJ. The department has taken steps toward an investigation, the Washington Post reported.
Maloney's investigation appears to focus on Trump's failures to comply with the Presidential Records Act of 1978 by holding on to documents and reportedly ripping up key documents during his White House days. The Presidential Records Act requires that material get turned over to the National Archives, which reached out to Trump after discovering the material was missing. But the law doesn't really have teeth in terms of enforcement.
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The DOJ will sometimes limit information that agencies can share with Congress during investigations.
Representatives for the Oversight Committee, the DOJ, and National Archives did not respond to the Washington Examiner's requests for comment.