Earlier today, the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee announced that just eight people and entities, out of eighty-one in total, had met yesterday’s document request deadline. This number sounded low to us, and we pointed out that based on their track record, we had no reason whatsoever to take the Republicans on this committee at their word. Now it turns out they were indeed fibbing the numbers – and we suspect we know why.
This evening Rachel Maddow revealed during her MSNBC show that the number of people who met the deadline is actually much higher. While eight people submitted their documents electronically, an unstated number of additional people sent paper documents to the House, which take longer to process. The Republicans on the committee know full well how this kind of thing works. So why would they pretend the number is so much lower than it is?
The thing about a massive document request operation is that while some people will definitely cooperate and others will never voluntarily cooperate, there are those on the fence who will be looking around to see what everyone else does. Let’s say that you and another person on the document request list had a crucial email exchange. If the other person is cooperating, that means the committee already has those emails, so there’s no reason for you to risk being held in contempt of Congress just to avoid having to turn those emails in.
If you’re tempted to fight the document request, and you find out that only a small handful of the other people on the list have cooperated, you’re going to feel more confident about standing your ground. This is surely why Donald Trump’s Republican allies tried to create the false appearance today that almost no one was cooperating. Now we wait for the real number. Once that surfaces, we expect to see more people give in and cooperate.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report