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Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz hammered Attorney General Merrick Garland Tuesday for calling claims that the Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) directed former President Donald Trump’s conviction a “conspiracy theory,” but refusing to say whether he would turn over the department’s communications with prosecutors.

During his opening statement at the House Judiciary Committee hearing, Garland slammed “baseless” attacks on the DOJ’s work, specifically calling out “false claims” about the DOJ’s involvement in Trump’s Manhattan case, which ended last week with a jury convicting Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records. Gaetz pressed Garland on whether the DOJ would turn over communications with Bragg’s office, as well as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and New York Attorney General Letitia James, noting Garland was making the case for collusion appear stronger by not answering the question.

“You’ve told us that it’s a dangerous conspiracy theory to allege that the Department of Justice is communicating with these state and local prosecutions against Trump,” he said “You can clear it all up for us right now, will the Department of Justice provide to the committee all documents all the correspondence, between the department and Alvin Bragg’s office, and Fani Willi’s office, and Letitia James’ office?”

“We do not control those offices,” Garland said.

Former acting associate attorney general Matthew Colangelo joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in December 2022 while Bragg was still investigating Trump. He previously also worked on the investigation into the Trump Foundation and the investigation that became Trump’s civil fraud case while working at the New York District Attorney’s office.

Colangelo also received thousands from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2018 for “political consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.

Gaetz responded that he was just asking if the DOJ had communicated with those offices.

“You come in here, and you lodge this attack that it’s a conspiracy theory that there is coordinated lawfare against Trump and then, when we say, ‘fine, just give us the documents, give us the correspondence and then, if it’s a conspiracy theory that will be evident,’” Gaetz told Garland. “But when you say, well, we’ll take your request and then we’ll sort of work it through the DOJ’s accommodation process than you’re, actually advancing the very dangerous conspiracy theory that you’re concerned about.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan requested documents related to the DOJ’s coordination with Manhattan Alvin Bragg’s office, including those related to Colangelo’s employment, in April.

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Gaetz also asked if, as a judge, Garland ever made political donations. Judge Juan Merchan, who oversaw Trump’s Manhattan trial, donated $15 to President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020.

Merchan’s daughter also runs a political consulting firm that serves Democratic clients, including California Rep. Adam Schiff. Trump’s attorneys sought to have Merchan recuse himself from the case, but he refused.

“Shouldn’t someone be owed, like a jury of their peers and a judge that’s non-biased, rather than getting a judge from your political opponent’s donor file?” Gaetz asked.

“I’m well aware that you’re not asking a hypothetical, you’re asking me to comment on a jury verdict in another jurisdiction that has to be respected,” Garland said. “I won’t comment on it.”

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