The Department of Justice has tapped John Lausch, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, to oversee the process of turning over subpoenaed documents to congressional committees.
In November, two House committees had requested documents detailing the FBI’s actions surrounding investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign. That includes the probe into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant for Trump campaign aide Carter Page and last month’s firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
The Justice Department stalled in handing over the documents, a delay they blame on the sheer volume of documents and number of redactions.
Lawmakers grew frustrated, eventually issuing a subpoena to speed up document production.
Last Thursday at noon was the deadline to hand over 1.2 million documents, but the Justice Department had only given legislators about 3,000 pages.
In response, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray said they have asked Mr. Lausch to manage the document production.
Mr. Lausch will have independent authority over the document production, the Justice Department said. He will also meet with members of Congress to discuss redactions.
“The ongoing credibility of the department with the American public is vital to its law enforcement and national security mission,” said Sarah Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman. “Mr. Lausch to oversee this specific document production, our goal is to assure Congress, the president, and the American people that the FBI is going to produce the relevant documents and will do so completely and with integrity and professionalism.”
Some in Congress questioned Mr. Lausch’s role, asking how injecting a new person into an ongoing review process will expedite matters.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, said in a statement he was trying to understand why the Justice Department would appoint Mr. Lausch now in response to a request that was made in November.
“I am confident U.S. Attorney John Lausch is a person of competence and character, however, I struggle to understand what has been happening over the previous months since Congress was assured DOJ and FBI were working on the document request,” Mr. Gowdy said. “I also struggle to understand U.S. Attorney Lausch’s specific role.”
“It could be there has not been meaningful review by DOJ or FBI to date,” the congressman said.