The Justice Department has officially launched a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood's alleged sale of fetal tissue, Fox News reports.
Justice Department Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd requested unredacted documents from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the same panel that spearheaded the original investigation into the abortion giant.
"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," Boyd wrote in a letter to the panel.
According to Fox News, the FBI requested the documents last month. But Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said they must first receive a letter proving the documents would be used for investigative purposes.
"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," Boyd also wrote.
In the committee's final report entitled "Human Fetal Tissue Research: Context and Controversy" published in December 2016, Grassley urged the FBI to investigate Planned Parenthood.
"The report documents the failure of the Department of Justice, across multiple administrations, to enforce the law that bans the buying and selling of human fetal tissue," Grassley wrote. "It also documents substantial evidence suggesting that the specific entities involved in the recent controversy, and/or individuals employed by those entities, may have violated that law."
Abby Johnson, former PP manager and current head of And Then There Were None is applauding the investigation.
“This is long-awaited, good news. Planned Parenthood has actively participated in illegal activity, selling the body parts of aborted babies in exchange for profit," she said in a statement. "They’ve lied to the very women they purport to fight for. I saw it first-hand when I worked for the abortion giant and yet, they still manage to obtain over half a billion dollars a year in our tax dollars. Congress should immediately halt any money to the abortion giant until the FBI completes their investigation."
The national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List also applauded the move.
"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," SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. "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," she continued. "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."
This new federal investigation comes two years after the Center for Medial Progress released undercover footage of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of baby body parts.
Planned Parenthood said the videos were false and denied all accusations of wrongdoing.