During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) tried to ambush Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein with a string of pointed questions about his oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign. It went extremely poorly for Jordan.
At one point, Jordan revealed profound ignorance of how the Department of Justice works by asking Rosenstein whether he had threatened to subpoena “phone calls” made by House Intelligence Committee staffers.
“There is no way to subpoena phone calls,” Rosenstein replied, as the room erupted in laughter.
At another point, Jordan accused Rosenstein of redacting documents turned over to Congress to cover up information embarrassing to the FBI. Rosenstein responded by pointing out that his job definitely does not involve redacting documents.
“Mr. Jordan, I am the deputy attorney general of the United States. I’m not the person doing the redacting,” he said.
Jordan — who has been pushing a flimsy conspiracy theory about purported anti-Trump, pro-Clinton bias in the FBI for months — resorting to talking over Rosenstein and berating him. Democrats on the committee interrupted Jordan’s rants to accuse him of attempting to hold a “press conference.”
Rosenstein replied with subtle snark, saying things like “I appreciate you giving me the chance to respond,” “I’m glad you say it’s not personal [because] sometimes it feels that way,” and “if you’re interested in the truth [the subtext being that Jordan isn’t], we have a team of folks that are Trump appointees and career folks, and they’re doing their best to produce these documents.”
Jordan is regularly given the opportunity to espouse his FBI conspiracy theory on Fox News shows like Hannity with no pushback, but it generally hasn’t gone well for him when he tries to do so elsewhere.
In February, CNN host Chris Cuomo debunked Jordan’s conspiracy theory in under two minutes by pointing out that if the FBI really was in the tank for Hillary during the campaign, the fact then-FBI Director James Comey went out of his way to publicize new information in the Clinton email investigation just days before the election makes no sense.
The Inspector General’s report that prompted Thursday’s hearing found that alleged anti-Trump bias didn’t impact the FBI’s handling of the Clinton investigation. The report found that by repeatedly publicizing and leaking information about the Clinton investigation while keeping the investigation into the Trump campaign quiet, the FBI may have negatively affected Clinton’s campaign.
But the IG’s findings didn’t deter Jordan or other Republicans on the committee, who all but accused Rosenstein of being involved in a cover up.
Meanwhile, Democrats on the committee criticized Republicans for holding yet another hearing on Hillary Clinton’s emails while being completely disinterested in conducting oversight of President Trump.
“As part of their coordinated and determined effort to undermine the special counsel’s investigation, Republicans are requesting documents they know they cannot have,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said during his opening statement. “If they somehow find themselves in possession of sensitive documents that go to the core of the special counsel’s investigation, and if past practice holds, those documents will end up in the possession of the subject of the investigation — namely President Trump — and shortly thereafter on Fox News.”
“The president and some of his closest advisors are under investigation for having participated in a criminal conspiracy with a foreign power against the United States. That is an emergency. The president practically confessed to Lester Holt on television that he obstructed the investigation into the conspiracy when said that he fired former FBI Director Comey because of, quote, this Russia stuff with Trump and Russia, close quote,” Nadler added. “That is an emergency.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) was more succinct.
“I’m almost believing that I’ve just attended or am in the midst of a Monster Ball, and we’re looking for monsters wherever we can find them,” she said. “That’s the absurdity of what we’re dealing with.”