GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio did not allow House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s claim to go unchallenged that the Justice Department became a lawless, political agency due to former President Donald Trump, asking, “Are you kidding me?”
“For four years, the democratic institutions that you have sworn to protect, first as a judge, now as attorney general, were deeply undermined by the former president and his political enablers,” Nadler told Attorney General Merrick Garland prior to the top federal law enforcement officer’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
“During that time, the Trump administration leveraged the department to protect the president and his friends and to punish his enemies, both real and imagined,” the New York Democrat said.
Nadler accused Trump of summoning the nation’s law enforcement officers following November’s election and demanding “they use the full power of the federal government to install him for another term.”
The Democrat told Garland his task is “unenviable … because you must build back everything [the Department of Justice] lost under the last administration. Its self-confidence, its reputation in the eyes of the American people and an institutional respect for our Constitution and the rule of law.”
Jordan, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, responded to Nadler’s opening statement by saying, “The chairman just said the Trump DOJ was political and went after their opponents. Are you kidding me?”
First, the congressman argued that Garland is overseeing a politically driven DOJ, pointing to a memorandum the attorney general put out earlier this month regarding “threats” against school officials from parents who are concerned about what their children are being taught.
“Three weeks ago the National School Board Administration writes President Biden asking him to involve the FBI in local school board matters,” Jordan said. “Five days later, the attorney general of the United States does just that. Does exactly what a political organization asked to be done.”
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Jordan contrasted that rapid movement by the attorney general with the slow response to 13 letters he and his congressional colleagues have sent to the DOJ, for which they sometimes wait weeks or months.
“Eight of the letters, we’ve got nothing,” the congressman said. “They just gave us the finger and said, ‘We’re not going to get back to you.’”
But what Jordan called a “snitch line” to report unruly parents was set up “five days after a left-wing political organization asked for it.”
“Think about this, the same FBI that Mr. Garland is directing to open dedicated lines of communication for reporting on parents just a few years ago spied on four American citizens associated with President Trump’s campaign,” the representative said.
Americans have had enough. pic.twitter.com/SFlYQFiFOR
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) October 21, 2021
“The Clinton campaign hired Perkins Coie, who hired Fusion GPS, who hired Christophe Steele who put a bunch of garbage together, gave it to the FBI. They used that as the basis to open up an investigation into a presidential campaign,” Jordan continued.
He further noted that a federal grand jury last month indicted Michael A. Sussmann, an attorney who worked at Perkins Coie, for allegedly passing false information to then-FBI general counsel Jim Baker alleging covert communications between the Trump campaign and Russians.
Jordan also pointed out, “A few weeks ago, the [inspector general] at the Department of Justice released a report that found that the FBI made over 200 errors, omissions and lies in just 29 randomly selected FISA applications.”
Last month, USA Today reported that the IG “faulted the FBI for ‘widespread’ errors in its applications for surveillance authority, concluding that the bureau failed to provide supporting documentation for sensitive wiretap requests.”
“Building on a 2019 examination of the FBI’s surveillance of a former Trump aide [Carter Page], Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the bureau did not include adequate support for 183 surveillance applications between 2015 and 2020 following a review of more than 7,000 such requests,” it said.
Those include former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; Comey’s chief of staff, James Rybicki; Baker; FBI agent Peter Strzok; FBI lawyer Lisa Page; and Bruce Ohr, who was associate deputy attorney general.
Bringing his remarks back to the present, Jordan contended that citizens’ constitutional rights have been under assault by the government and that “Americans are afraid.”
“They tell me for the first time, they fear their government,” he said. “And frankly I think it’s obvious why. Every single liberty we enjoy under the First Amendment has been assaulted over the last year.”
However, Jordan argued Garland’s memo was a turning point.
“I don’t think the good people of this great country are going to cower and hide. I think your memo, Mr. Attorney General, was the last straw,” he said. “I think it was the catalyst for a great awakening that is just getting started.”
Jordan concluded, “Americans are pushing back because Americans value freedom.”