FBI doubles personnel to respond to Goodlatte requests

FBI doubles personnel to respond to Goodlatte requests
© Greg Nash

FBI Director Christopher Wray is doubling the number of FBI personnel tasked with responding to records requests from House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteThe job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden MORE (R-Va.), he said in a statement Tuesday night.

Up until Tuesday, 27 dedicated staffers were working to process Goodlatte's request. The committee has received about 3,000 documents so far.

Wray said while there is a very large number of documents to provide, "I agree that the current pace of production is too slow."

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Goodlatte — who along with House Oversight and Government Committee Chairman Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.) is investigating alleged bias at the Justice Department — last week issued a subpoena to obtain documents related to how the FBI handled its probe into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE’s email server and potential surveillance abuses.

Conservatives on the two committees have become increasingly frustrated with what they say is the slow pace with which the Justice Department has turned over documents, leading to slow-going in the probe.

Specifically, lawmakers want to see a tranche of over a million documents examined by Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is conducting a parallel probe into decisionmaking during the 2016 election.

"Quite candidly, if you're a FOIA applicant, you have a better chance of getting information," Gowdy told The Hill in an interview last week.

Democrats have called the Goodlatte-Gowdy probe a partisan distraction aimed at muddying the waters around special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's investigation into President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE's campaign and Russia.

DOJ spokesman Ian Prior said in a statement last week that officials are carefully combing through the documents page-by-page to protect certain sensitive information. The committee has been receiving documents on a rolling basis every 10 to 14 days, he said.

He also pushed back on the breadth of the document request, saying the DOJ believes there are 30,000 documents relevant to the committee's inquiry and describing the 1.2 million document request as "substantial."

Fifty-four FBI staff members, working in two shifts from 8 a.m. to midnight, will now work to "expedite" the project, according to Wray.

-- Olivia Beavers contributed.