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Iowa Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson called on the U.S. Department of Justice to release more information about the FBI's search of former President Donald Trump's Florida estate.
Hinson, of Marion, tweeted this week that the "American people deserve full and immediate transparency“ and that ”it was past time for a detailed justification to prove this was not a political fishing expedition,“ even after the release of the search warrant and property receipt by order of a federal judge at the request of the Justice Department.
The seized records include some that were marked classified as top secret and also “sensitive compartmented information,” a special category meant to protect the nation’s most important secrets and those that if revealed publicly could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to U.S. interests, the Associated Press reported. The court records did not provide specific details about information the documents might contain.
The search warrant, also unsealed Friday, said federal agents were investigating potential violations of three different federal laws, including one that governs gathering, transmitting or losing defense information under the Espionage Act. The other statutes address the concealment, mutilation or removal of records and the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.
Hinson’s office said House and Senate intelligence committees should be given relevant documents as well as the FBI affidavit that provide a detailed justification for the search.
“After this unprecedented raid, the American people are rightly skeptical and deserve answers,” Hinson said in a statement Tuesday. “The DOJ must stop withholding critical information from Congress and the American people — transparency brings accountability.”
Hinson added she strongly condemns any attacks or violence, including against those at the Justice Department and FBI or any member of law enforcement.
"Violence is never acceptable,“ Hinson stated about reports of increased threats against federal law enforcement following the search last week of Trump’s Florida home.
The Justice Department in court documents opposed efforts to make public the affidavit supporting the search warrant for Trump’s residence, saying the investigation “implicates highly classified material” and the document contains sensitive information about witnesses. Publicly releasing the affidavit, according to the court filing, would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation.”
The government’s opposition came in response to court filings by several news organizations, including the Associated Press, seeking to unseal the underlying affidavit the Justice Department submitted when it asked for the warrant to search Trump’s estate.
In a statement Friday, Trump claimed that the documents seized by agents were “all declassified,” and argued that he would have turned over the documents to the Justice Department if asked.
While incumbent presidents have the power to declassify information, that authority lapses as soon as they leave office and it was not clear if the documents in question were ever declassified. Trump also kept possession of the documents despite multiple requests from agencies, including the National Archives, to turn over records in accordance with federal law.
It remains unclear whether the Justice Department moved forward with the warrant simply as a means to retrieve the records or as part of a wider criminal investigation.
Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday urging him to "correct course" and prioritize combating violent crime.
The top Republican ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is tasked with conducting oversight of the Justice Department, Grassley has been vocal about his support for making the affidavit public.
Iowa’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, was called out last week over remarks he made Thursday on “Fox & Friends” speculating whether the IRS would use increased funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to send armed units of agents into small Iowa businesses.
“Are they going to have a strike force that goes in with AK-15s already loaded, ready to shoot some small business person in Iowa with these, because I think they’re going after middle class and small business people, because they think that anybody that has pass-through income is a crook, and they aren’t paying their fair share, and we’re going to go after them,” he said.
Democrats blasted Grassley’s remarks as inaccurate, irresponsible and an incendiary conspiracy theory that incites violence against federal authorities, noting just hours before his remarks a gunman opened fire on FBI agents in Cincinnati.
Fact-checking website PolitiFact called claims that new funding to beef up IRS enforcement included in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act would militarize the IRS was “outlandish.”
The IRS purchases guns and ammunition for special agents in its criminal investigation division who investigate crimes ranging from major drug and money laundering operations to illegal gaming operations and corporate fraud. The typical IRS auditors that Americans would encounter in a routine audit are unarmed and the vast majority of those audits are done by mail, PolitiFact noted.
The fact-checking website also reported the division has been armed for more than a century and its spending on ammunition this year is on par with previous years and less than what was spent a decade ago.
Grassley’s office said the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law Tuesday by President Joe Biden includes an additional $80 billion to beef up IRS enforcement, including hiring 87,000 additional IRS employees.
“In that context, he was asked about an IRS job posting that listed as its major duties the ability to ‘carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force,’” according to Grassley’s office. “Senator Grassley answered with a rhetorical question, with his point being: Why do we need more armed IRS agents? The IRS is being flooded with taxpayer dollars to boost audits targeting American small businesses — at their expense. If anything, Senator Grassley believes Congress should be focused on providing more IRS services so people can get the return faster instead of going after small businesses.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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