Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Tuesday repeatedly suggested that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tried to cover up a text message in which FBI agent Peter Strzok said “we’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president.
Jordan devoted multiple rounds of questioning to his pursuit of Rosenstein during a joint Judiciary and Oversight Committee hearing on the recently released Justice Department Inspector General report.
As Jordan noted, many of the texts between Strzok and his fellow former FBI official and former girlfriend Lisa Page lambasting Trump leaked out earlier, but this “most explosive” one was not made public until the report came out last week.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz explained that the message was only discovered in May thanks to technical complications in extracting all of the officials’ texts, and that that new trove of messages was sent to Rosenstein’s office for them to then turn them over to Congress.
Jordan then suggested that Rosenstein did not turn over the text message right away.
“Mr. Rosenstein made a decision that instead of us seeing the most explosive text message between these two key agents who were on the Clinton team, the Russia team, and on the special counsel team, he made a decision to wait a month for us to see that text message,” Jordan said.
“I can’t speak to whether anyone made a conscious decision,” Horowitz replied. “I would just say we had — there was in that fourth recovery that we made in May, there was 100,000-plus lines of text to go through, most all of them we’d found before. This one was one we hadn’t. We didn’t see it or pick it up until June.”
Horowitz then explained, as he did in his Monday testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, that his office had to exhaust its cyber forensics capabilities and ultimately go to both an outside vendor and the Pentagon to try to recover all of the agents’ messages.
Jordan is among the GOP lawmakers who have attacked Rosenstein for his oversight of the special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference. Claiming that Rosenstein is withholding documents from Congress, this group of Republicans has called for him to be impeached.
Jordan’s animosity toward Rosenstein was clear in his questioning Tuesday.
The Ohio lawmaker said Rosenstein “hid information from us” and, in a subsequent round of questioning, suggested the deputy attorney general intentionally declined to show Congress the “we’ll stop it” text after Horowitz pointed it out to him on June 8.
“Do you know if there’s anything nefarious at work?” Jordan asked. “When we got the original question, it had the prompting question from Ms. Page. He’s never going to become President. We had that for months. Why didn’t we get the response?”
Horowitz replied again that it was due to a technical glitch that kept the FBI from storing months worth of messages, and to the difficulties his office had in retrieving them.