Screengrabs via YouTube / PBS NewsHour, WCCO - CBS Minnesota

The Facts —

  • The Justice Department sent a letter to Congress on Thursday requesting unredacted documents relating to a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into the procurement and sale of human fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood and multiple biomedical research companies.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee detailed its findings in a December 2016 report, in which Chairman Chuck Grassley (Iowa) referred multiple healthcare providers — including Planned Parenthood — to the FBI for investigation.
  • Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd wrote in the DOJ letter, which was first reported by Fox News and The Daily Beast:

“The Department of Justice appreciates the offer of assistance in obtaining these materials, and would like to request the Committee provide unredacted copies of records contained in the report, in order to further the Department’s ability to conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of that report based on the full range of information available…

At this point, the records are intended for investigative use only—we understand that a resolution from the Senate may be required if the Department were to use any of the unredacted materials in a formal legal proceeding, such as a grand jury.”

  • The letter doesn’t mention Planned Parenthood by name.

RELATED: Texas to Cut Medicaid Funding to Planned Parenthood

  • Planned Parenthood vice president of government relations, Dana Singiser, previously said of the Senate Judiciary report, according to The Daily Beast:

“Planned Parenthood’s standards have always gone above and beyond what the law required. As investigation after investigation has shown, Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong. Senator Grassley’s report attempts to paint a nefarious picture of the simple re-formatting of a document—showing once again that there is no actual wrongdoing to point to.”

The Context —

  • It’s illegal to profit from the sale of human fetal tissue, blood, or body parts. However, abortion providers — like Planned Parenthood — may be reimbursed for costs associated with the procurement, handling, or transportation of fetal tissue.
  • In 2015, pro-life activist group The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released undercover video footage from interactions some of its members had with Planned Parenthood employees.
    • The CMP has said the more than 12 hours of video footage show evidence that Planned Parenthood violated federal law by attempting to profit from the sale of human fetal tissue.
    • Planned Parenthood has repeatedly rejected these accusations, calling the videos “deceptively” and “heavily” edited. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in March 2016 against CMP and the group’s director, David Daleiden.

Supporters of the DOJ Probe —

“The Justice Department’s investigation of Planned Parenthood is a major turning point in the battle to hold the nation’s largest abortion business accountable. Evidence shows Planned Parenthood sought to squeeze every last opportunity for cash from the sale of hearts, brains, lungs, and livers of aborted children. This abortion chain has for too long enjoyed government favor under the Obama Administration. That ends now. We thank the Trump administration and DOJ for taking decisive action to launch a formal investigation. We anticipate that this investigation will only underscore the urgent need to redirect half a billion dollars in annual taxpayer funding away from the abortion giant and we hope to see Congress to deliver on this core promise soon.”

  • One American News anchor Liz Wheeler wrote:

“Over two years ago, citizen journalists at The Center for Medical Progress first caught Planned Parenthood’s top abortion doctors in a series of undercover videos callously and flippantly negotiating the sale of tiny baby hearts, lungs, livers, and brains. Since then, two Congressional investigations found even deeper wrongdoing and confirmed that Planned Parenthood Federation of America, several of their biggest affiliates, and multiple business partners broke the law in a profit-driven scheme to commodify dismembered baby body parts. It is time for public officials to finally hold Planned Parenthood and their criminal abortion enterprise accountable under the law.”

RELATED: VP Pence Casts Tie-Breaking Vote on Bill Allowing States to Withhold Title X Funds from Abortion Providers

  • Jacob Wohl tweeted:

  • David Daleiden, project lead at CMP, tweeted:

Critics of the DOJ Probe —

“It is unclear what further investigations will reveal about Planned Parenthood’s practices that isn’t already known. The decision is further proof that sting videos hold significant power and sway. While the Judiciary Committee’s finding were not based on the CMP videos, their release prompted the report.

The videos themselves were strongly influenced by conservative activist James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas. That organization has been linked to recent efforts to market a false sexual assault allegation targeting Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, seemingly in an effort to discredit the numerous allegations made by other women. The videos made by CMP have had a long-lasting impact themselves, inspiring a wave of legislative efforts around the country, in addition to a deadly attack on a Planned Parenthood in Colorado.”

  • Twitter user Jamie Bryant wrote:

  • Dana Singiser, Planned Parenthood Federation of America vice president of government affairs, said in November of the FBI investigation, according to The Hill:

“Planned Parenthood strongly disagrees with the recommendations of the Senate Republican staff to refer this matter to the Justice Department, especially in light of the fact that investigations by three other Congressional committees, and investigations in 13 states including a Grand Jury in Texas, have all shown that Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong.”

  • Rewire tweeted:

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