As we’ve noted here at TPM a few times now, one of the questions coming out of the investigation into those pilfered Democratic Judiciary Committee staff memos is whether the GOP staffers in question shared the memos with colleagues at the Justice Department or the White House.
We’ve now looked over the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms report on the matter issued last week. And it seems clear that his investigators were prevented from finding out whether or not this happened because of their lack of subpoena and other standard law enforcement powers.
For instance, if you look at pages 21-22 of the report (we’ve uploaded these sections to the TPM Document Collection), you see that Jason Lundell — the little gizmocrat who first discovered he could get access to the memos — was also responsible for “speaking with the Department of Justice Legislative Affairs and Legal Policy representatives.”
So he worked in a liaison capacity with the people who run the judicial appointments at Justice.
It turns out there’s a footnote to that sentence I just quoted.
And when you go to the bottom of the page you see that footnote reads: “As of the time this report is being completed, the Department of Justice still has under consideration investigators’ request to interview the employee who Mr. Lundell reports having contacts with.”
Now, they spent more than a couple days working on this report. So I think that’s gentle and generous way of saying that the Justice Department declined to make this person available for an interview.
Then if you hop down to pages 48-49, you’ll see that in his final interview with investigators, Manuel Miranda — the guy at the center of all this — for the first time mentioned that a backup disk of the documents had just come into his possession and that he got it from “a friend of his from outside the Senate” who had made the backup for him. This friend had just recently reminded him that the backup existed.
Now, here’s the key.
The report says Miranda “declined to give investigators the name of the friend stating that he did not want to prolong the investigation. He also refused to give investigators the names of his White House legislative contacts for the same reason.”
I bet Martha Stewart wishes she’d known about this right of non-prolongation, don’t you?
In any case, all humor aside, it seems pretty clear that the Senate investigators found possible trails leading to both the White House and the Justice Department. But they were blocked from pursuing them.
That doesn’t mean that anything untoward happened, only that the Senate investigators lacked the standard array of investigative tools available to law enforcement investigators. So we just don’t know whether Miranda, Lundell or possibly others shared the memos with people at Justice or the White House. Because in any meaningful sense, the question simply hasn’t been investigated.