Updated Aug 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House GOP intensify scrutiny of DOJ, FBI following Trump search

Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, speaks during a news conference on recent actions of the FBI at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., US, on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022

Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks during a news conference on recent actions of the FBI on Aug. 12. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Republicans on Monday continued their steady stream of demands for information from the Justice Department and FBI in the wake of the search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence last week.

Why it matters: The deluge of letters and preservation requests signals that scrutinizing the conduct of the DOJ and FBI will be a top investigative priority for Republicans if they retake control of Congress next year.

Driving the news: 18 Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent letters Monday to Attorney General Merrick Garland, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and FBI director Christopher Wray seeking the preservation of documents related to the search — a signal of plans for future subpoenas.

  • Among the materials they requested are "all documents and communications between or among the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the Executive Office of the President about a search of President Trump's residence."
  • A senior Republican aide told Axios the letter "signals that everything is on the table" in a future Republican majority.

Also on Monday, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who leads GOP messaging, led a letter, which was also signed by Reps. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.), questioning Wray's use of a government plane. Turner and Comer are the top Republicans on the Intelligence and Oversight Committees.

  • The lawmakers ask Wray for "all documents and communications referring or relating to ... travel on government aircraft, including the dates of travel, the aircraft used, the purpose of the flights, and the names of all passengers on the flights."
  • "Although certain federal officials are permitted to use government aircraft for personal or political use, these expenses must be reimbursed," they wrote.

The FBI said Monday in response to the letter: "The FBI Director travels by government aircraft due to the FBI’s national security mission, which necessitates specific communications capabilities and security considerations."

  • "Director Wray has adhered to the federal regulations governing the use of the aircraft to include reimbursement for personal use. The Bureau’s national security and law enforcement operations, including transporting investigators and critical evidence, has been and remains the first priority for all FBI aircraft.”

The big picture: The letters build on several GOP demands for information sent out last week.

  • Turner sent a letter to Wray the night of the search requesting the evidence that was used to obtain the search warrant and a list of documents seized.
  • Comer sent a similar letter to the head of the National Archives the following day.
  • Both letters asked for information on contact between the two agencies in the lead-up to the search.

The other side: Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, began their own investigation on Saturday.

  • They sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines seeking a national security damage assessment on the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

Go deeper ... Another GOP panel primes Mar-a-Lago probe

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from the FBI.

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