GOP senators call on Justice Department to release Crossfire Hurricane records

The senators are concerned that improper redactions may be made by the DOJ.

Updated: February 15, 2022 - 7:48pm

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Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Tuesday sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on the Justice Department to declassify the Crossfire Hurricane records that President Donald Trump ordered to be released while he was in office.

Grassley, ranking Judiciary Committee member, and Johnson, ranking Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations member, said that the Department of Justice's "delayed transparency has interfered with congressional investigators’ review of what should already be public records."

Crossfire Hurricane is the name given to the FBI's investigation of the Trump 2016 campaign and possible ties to Russia. Trump ordered the declassification of any documents related to the probe on his last full day as president.

Sen. Johnson and Sen. Grassley in October 2021 demanded answers from the DOJ about the records' release. Since then, "the Justice Department has not only failed to declassify a single page, the Department has failed to identify for Congress records that it knows with certainty to be covered by the declassification directive," the duo wrote to Garland. 

The senators voiced concern that the DOJ has yet to identify records "subject to the declassification directive" or confirm that the records have not already been reviewed by congressional staff. They also stressed that the department must ensure that the records will not be improperly redacted.

"[O]ur staff should not have to spend potentially multiple days and countless hours in the Department’s classified facility only to play a guessing game with the Department about what document may or may not be covered by the declassification directive and potentially review records that have already been produced to Congress," the senators wrote.

A previous letter from the DOJ to Grassley and Johnson "failed to provide information" about department actions taken to decide which records should be declassified, among other things, they said.

"Our oversight efforts are based on our unyielding belief that the American people deserve to know the complete truth about the Crossfire Hurricane investigation," Johnson and Grassley told Garland.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) last year released transcripts of interviews from the Senate Judiciary Committee's Crossfire Hurricane investigation. He criticized the FBI's probe as "a massive system failure by senior leadership."