Senators team up to push for cooperation from feds
WASHINGTON – Members of the Senate Judiciary
Committee today engaged in an impromptu bipartisan discussion about the Justice
Department’s repeated failures to respond to congressional oversight inquiries
from Republicans and Democrats alike.
The discussion was kicked off by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who
called for a better flow of information pursuant to his oversight inquiries.
is something going on over there [at the Justice Department] that looks an
awful lot like a formal policy not to answer our questions. … We are going to
have to come to a proper resolution of this so that the oversight capacity of all
of us as senators is not completely blunted by blockades in the executive branch,”
been trying to get a phone call with the attorney general for more than a month
now, and all I want to do is get an update on my request for information –
answers to letters. And particularly, because we might get an answer to a
letter, but we never get any of the documents we want,” Grassley said.
specifically noted FBI Director Chris Wray’s refusal to provide an explanation or
records related to a 2020 FBI briefing that later leaked to the news media. Wray
also refused to meet in-person with Grassley to discuss the briefing.
senators pointed out that failures by the Justice Department and its component
agencies to fully and timely cooperate with Congress’ constitutional oversight prerogatives
is not new. Resistance to oversight inquiries from both sides of the aisle has
been a common theme across administrations, but it must be addressed.
Grassley and Senator Whitehouse, I think you raise legitimate concerns and I’d
suggest that instead of waiting for emails or letters to clear, we get to the bottom
of this. Let’s agree that sometime before we leave next week, we will try to create
a phone conference conversation with the attorney general and the head of the
FBI to address this issue. You both have
raised it repeatedly, and I think it deserves our attention as a committee, and
I invite any other members who want to be part of it to join in that,” Durbin said.