A top Senate Republican said the Biden Justice Department still hasn’t handed over to Congress any declassified records from the flawed Trump-Russia investigation despite the last-minute declassification push by former President Donald Trump.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke on the Senate floor this week, lamenting that Attorney General Merrick Garland “hasn’t produced a single declassified record to Congress relating to Crossfire Hurricane.” Grassley, along with Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, made a similar push in October after the DOJ failed to release any of the Crossfire Hurricane documents Trump ordered declassified his last day in office.
“We all know about the fatal defects and political decisions that were made during Crossfire Hurricane,” Grassley said. “That type of improper government conduct demands maximum transparency.”
Grassley and Johnson requested an update from the DOJ in February on when the full set of declassified records would be handed over to Congress, and Grassley said their staffs followed up with “countless emails and phone calls,” to no avail.
The memo from Trump said he had “determined that the materials should be declassified to the maximum extent possible.” The FBI said in mid-January that the bureau had "identified the passages that it believed it was most crucial to keep from public disclosure.”
Trump said at the time he would “accept the redactions proposed for continued classification by the FBI” and ordered the rest of the documents to be declassified and made available by the Justice Department.
DOJ SAYS 'ALTERNATIVE MUELLER REPORT' FOUND
The "witch hunt," as Trump called it, allegedly began with the FBI opening an investigation into his campaign's alleged ties to Russia in the summer of 2016. That inquiry, with the code name Crossfire Hurricane, was wrapped into Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.
Mueller's team released a report in April 2019 that failed to establish any proof of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Special counsel John Durham is investigating the origins and conduct of the Trump-Russia investigation.
“The Justice Department hasn’t claimed that the Durham investigation is a basis for refusing to provide these records," Grassley said. "So what’s the delay all about? Is Attorney General Garland trying to shield the Justice Department and the FBI from further embarrassment?”
Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe declassified handwritten notes from former CIA Director John Brennan in October 2020 showing he briefed then-President Barack Obama in 2016 on an unverified Russian intelligence report claiming former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton planned in July 2016 on tying then-candidate Trump to Russia’s hack of the Democratic National Committee to distract from her improper use of a private email server.
Ratcliffe said his office had provided almost 1,000 pages of materials to the Justice Department in response to Durham’s document requests. The former Trump spy chief more recently said the documents he’d provided to Durham would support additional criminal charges.
Ex-FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty to editing an email fraudulently to say former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was “not a source” for the CIA. Durham recently indicted the Democratic cybersecurity lawyer for allegedly misleading the FBI when pushing claims about a secret back channel between a Russian bank and the Trump Organization, and he charged Christopher Steele's source Igor Danchenko with allegedly repeatedly lying to the FBI.
Former chief of staff Mark Meadows provided insights into the declassification struggle within the Trump administration in his new book.
"The DOJ or the FBI would consistently push back when he asked for the remaining documents to be declassified," Meadows wrote. "DOJ had finally allowed key documents to be declassified and yet minutes before Joe Biden would be sworn in, they were trying to redact information they had just provided."
Trump had previously called for all of the Russia investigation documents to be made public.
"I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!" Trump tweeted in October 2020, adding that “all Russia Hoax Scandal information was Declassified by me long ago.”
But following a federal court order, Meadows told a judge that month that the president’s tweets were not declassification orders.
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Despite not releasing any declassified Trump-Russia records, the Justice Department announced earlier this month that the so-called Alternative Mueller Report mentioned in a book by Andrew Weissmann, a top prosecutor for Mueller’s investigation, would soon be made public.
“On the one hand, the Biden Justice Department has no idea what records should be declassified pursuant to President Trump’s January 2021 declassification order,” Grassley said this week. “Yet, can you believe it? On the other hand, the Justice Department will reportedly soon release an ‘Alternative Mueller Report’ because a federal court made them do it.”
Grassley said the Biden DOJ’s intransigence was akin to Garland saying, “Screw you, senators.”
The Justice Department did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.