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House Judiciary chair Jim Jordan seeks unredacted DOJ memo on special counsel's Trump probes

DOJ's high-stakes meeting with Trump lawyers
U.S. prosecutors meet with Trump lawyers about classified documents at Mar-a-Lago 01:29

Washington — The Republican leader of the House Judiciary Committee is asking the Justice Department to turn over an unredacted copy of a memorandum laying out the scope of special counsel Jack Smith's investigations involving former President Donald Trump and information related to Smith's appointment to oversee the probes.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who chairs the Judiciary panel, requested the materials in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday and set a deadline of June 20 for the Justice Department to provide the committee with the memo and other documents "describing, listing, or delineating the authority and jurisdiction of the special counsel." 

Garland announced last November that Smith would serve as special counsel to oversee the Justice Department's investigation into Trump's handling of sensitive government records and possible obstruction of the inquiry. The order issued by Garland appointing Smith also authorized the special counsel to examine efforts to interfere with the transfer of power after the 2020 presidential election and the certification of Electoral College votes held on Jan. 6, 2021.

The attorney general's order, none of which was redacted, gave Smith the power to "prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters" and refer discrete prosecutions that may arise from the probe to the appropriate U.S. attorney. The Justice Department confirmed that it received Jordan's letter but declined to comment further.

Jordan's request is part of the Judiciary Committee's investigation into the FBI's court-authorized search of Trump's South Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8, 2022. Federal investigators seized from the property 33 boxes of material, 13 of which contained just over 100 documents marked classified. 

Records made public following the search, including the redacted FBI affidavit submitted to justify the search warrant and the warrant itself, indicated Trump was under federal investigation for the removal or destruction of records, obstruction of justice and potentially violating a provision of the Espionage Act related to gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.

The FBI's search followed a monthslong effort by the National Archives and Records Administration to retrieve records Trump brought with him to South Florida after the end of his presidential administration in January 2021. 

Representatives for the former president and officials at the Archives wrangled for months behind the scenes over the materials, which the government said had to be turned over under federal records law when Trump left the White House. 

As part of the Archives' efforts, it recovered 15 boxes containing presidential records from Mar-a-Lago in January 2022. Those boxes included 184 documents with classification markings, totaling over 700 pages. 

Then, in June 2022, after the Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department, Trump's lawyers gave federal investigators a folder containing 38 records marked classified after receiving a subpoena for "any and all" documents bearing classification markings that were in Trump's possession at Mar-a-Lago. 

In all, roughly 300 documents marked classified were recovered by federal investigators from the South Florida property after Trump left office. 

The latest request from Jordan to Garland comes as the special counsel appears to be nearing the end of his investigation into the classified documents and records recovered from Mar-a-Lago. Several sources with knowledge of the probe believe a charging decision is imminent, and Trump's attorneys met with Smith and federal prosecutors at the Justice Department on Monday.

The former president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, claiming that several of his predecessors left office with presidential records, which the Archives disputed. He has also alleged that he declassified the sensitive materials recovered from Mar-a-Lago, though he hasn't presented evidence of doing so, and that the materials he kept were "personal" and therefore didn't have to be turned over.

Nikole Killion and Robert Legare contributed reporting.

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