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Federal Judge Challenges DOJ’s Double Standard on Subpoena Compliance

Judge calls out blatant double standard (Credits: The New York Post)

In an interesting development on April 5, a federal judge admonished attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), labeling their defiance of congressional subpoenas as hypocritical.

U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes delivered her rebuke, as reported by Politico, highlighting the stark contradiction in the DOJ’s stance. She underscored the irony by referencing the imprisonment of Peter Navarro, a former advisor to ex-President Donald Trump, who faced legal repercussions for failing to comply with a House subpoena.

Department of Justice (Credits: Department of Justice)

The confrontation arose from the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives seeking answers from DOJ tax attorneys Mark Daly and Jack Morgan regarding the investigation into Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden. Despite the committee’s inquiries, the DOJ declined to cooperate, prompting subpoenas in both 2023 and 2024.

The DOJ’s refusal to comply was based on their assertion that the committee’s restrictions on government lawyers attending depositions rendered the subpoenas legally invalid. This position relied heavily on a 2019 opinion from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, a stance that Judge Reyes openly criticized during the hearing.

During the proceedings, DOJ officials defended their decision not to comply with the subpoenas, emphasizing the distinction between the cases of Navarro and Bannon and that of Daly and Morgan. However, Judge Reyes remained skeptical of their arguments, particularly the reliance on the 2019 DOJ opinion.

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden (Credits: PBS)

The judge’s frustration was palpable when DOJ attorney James Gilligan failed to commit to advising the attorneys to comply with the subpoenas should the circumstances change.

Lawmakers’ insistence on hearing from Daly and Morgan stems from concerns surrounding the irregularities in the DOJ’s handling of the Hunter Biden investigation. Despite potential privilege claims, lawmakers are keen to obtain their testimony to shed light on these matters.

Judge Reyes expressed bewilderment at the prolonged dispute between the executive and legislative branches, urging both parties to seek a compromise. She mandated further negotiations between the lawyers involved and warned that failure to reach an agreement could result in Daly and Morgan being compelled to answer questions under oath.

The judge’s intervention underscores the complexity and importance of the ongoing clash between Congress and the DOJ over the issue of subpoenas, highlighting the broader tensions between the branches of government.

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