The leader of the House Freedom Caucus launched a new allegation that the Justice Department had failed to turn over two text messages involving former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, but a Justice Department official said neither were relevant to the lawmaker’s document requests and one had been turned over months ago.
The back-and-forth marked the latest signs of escalating tensions between House Republicans and the Justice Department, as conservatives threaten to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a move Democrats contend is an unfounded attempt geared to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which Rosenstein supervises.
In a letter to Rosenstein the North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows says it’s “extremely troubling” that the texts were “intentionally withheld” from lawmakers, questioning whether other materials weren’t turned over as well.
“Once again, we have obtained evidence the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have intentionally withheld material information from Congress,” writes Meadows. “Specifically, we have learned of the existence of two text messages, sent weeks before the 2016 election, which raise grave concerns as to what other information you have failed to produce to Congress.”
A Justice Department official said Tuesday, however, that neither of the texts were related to the lawmakers’ inquiry into how the FBI handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the department had “produced the first text message referenced in the letter to Congress in February of this year.”
A Meadows spokesman pushed back at the department’s assertion that the message had been given to Congress in February and that the texts had nothing to do with the Clinton probe.
“Neither of those claims are accurate,” the spokesman said.