Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley, Johnson to ODNI: Unmask Classified Footnotes in IG Report on Russia Probe

Apr 02, 2020
Senators made initial request to DOJ; Intel community now must weigh in
 
WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are calling on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to work with the Justice Department to ensure that four footnotes in the Justice Department Inspector General’s (IG) report on the Russian interference investigation are declassified to the fullest extent possible.  The IG report focused on the FBI’s failures surrounding its efforts to secretly surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
 
“…the classified information provides insight essential for an accurate evaluation of the entire investigation and the public interest in the disclosure of the information outweighs the need to protect it,” the senators wrote in a letter to Ambassador Richard Grenell, the acting director of the Office of National Intelligence.
 
The senators issued an initial request to Attorney General William Barr earlier this year, and though it resulted in significant progress toward transparency, the intelligence community must weigh in to ensure that the maximum amount of information can be declassified and released to the public. The senators forwarded to ODNI their earlier classified request, which was submitted to DOJ in January.
 
An unclassified cover letter that accompanied their request follows:
 
April 2, 2020
 
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
Ambassador Richard Grenell
Acting Director
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
 
Dear Ambassador Grenell:
 
On January 28, 2020, we sent a classified letter to Attorney General Barr requesting that he declassify four footnotes that we identified after reviewing the Justice Department Inspector General’s classified report on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.[1]  In the unclassified cover letter, which we have attached hereto, we explained that this classified information provides insight essential for an accurate evaluation of the entire investigation, and the public interest in the disclosure of the information outweighs the need to protect it.
 
Since sending that letter, we have had very fruitful discussions with the Justice Department.  We very much appreciate Attorney General Barr’s focus on transparency and his understanding that this important information ought to be public.  However, there are several sections of the footnotes that certain members of the Intelligence Community are concerned about declassifying.  Accordingly, we are forwarding you our classified letter to Attorney General Barr, and we request that you ensure that all the footnotes are declassified to the fullest extent possible so that the American people have a full understanding of what transpired during the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. 
 
If you have any questions about this request, please contact Joshua Flynn-Brown of Chairman Grassley’s staff at (202) 224-4515 or Joseph Folio of Chairman Johnson’s staff at (202) 224-4751.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
Charles E. Grassley                                                   
Chairman
Committee on Finance
 
Ron Johnson
Chairman
Committee on Homeland Security
   and Governmental Affairs
 
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[1] U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Office of Inspector Gen., Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation (Dec. 2019), https://www.justice.gov/storage/120919-examination.pdf.