WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley has asked for a complete accounting of how the Department of Justice is responding to an incident last month in Louisiana where a senior civil rights lawyer for the department reportedly threatened a journalist about getting “on the Department of Justice’s bad side” if the reporter quoted the lawyer. The alleged incident occurred at a meeting advertised as a public event to address concerns about employment practices of the local fire department.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Grassley asked if the Department of Justice is conducting an investigation and if not, why not. Grassley also asked for details about the Justice Department’s “special rules” for statements reportedly cited by the department lawyer at the meeting. And, he asked for the justification and an explanation of the threat reportedly leveled by the department official if the reporter didn’t comply with orders about not quoting her.
Grassley said reports of the incident in New Iberia, Louisiana, including a complaint by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, are troubling and, if accurate, “confirm that there is a complete disconnect between the President’s words about transparency and the actual conduct of his Administration.” Grassley referred to two memoranda issued by President Obama purportedly designed to usher in a “new era of open government” and to comments from White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew as recently as July 1, that the Obama Administration “has been the most transparent administration ever.”
Click here for Grassley’s July 17 letter to Holder.