Grassley Reiterates Need to End Political Double Standards in Congressional Oversight
Oct 15, 2019
Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
On Consistent Oversight – Part Two
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
We’ve heard a lot about whistleblowers in the past several weeks.
There’s been an outpouring of concern for whistleblowers ever since word came out that there was a whistleblower complaint that implicates the current administration.
A lot of those on the other side of the aisle expressing support for whistleblowers, to the best of my recollection, haven’t expressed the same level of concern for whistleblowers in the last administration.
Welcome to the table. I hope you stay awhile.---
I’ve said for years that it’s critical that we protect the whistleblower process to incentivize the disclosure of true waste, fraud, and abuse at the taxpayer’s expense.
Those processes must be carefully followed by all whistleblowers and that process must be respected by our government’s institutions. Those legal processes are especially important for government employees who work in the intelligence field.
Whistleblowers who act in good faith, comply with the disclosure process set out by law, and report their concerns through proper channels deserve to be heard. And they deserve to be protected.
I’ve also said that first, second, or third hand information doesn’t make or break a whistleblower. If they follow the procedure, that’s what’s important.
However, hearsay is a factor to take into account when analyzing the strength of the underlying allegations. Clearly, first-hand knowledge is much more powerful than second or third-hand knowledge. That’s just common sense.
It’s common sense no matter what the allegations are, or who the subject is, and there needs to be a consistent approach in the way that Congress conducts oversight.
On April 8th, of this year, I spoke on the Senate floor about the need for consistent oversight.
I pointed out clear double standards between what the Democrats are doing to the Trump administration and the blind-eye they’ve used on any fact pattern that might damage their political narrative.
Let me remind the Democrats that I threatened to subpoena the President’s son and that my staff later deposed him. In fact, I investigated alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign and interviewed more than 10 people connected to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, many of them Trump campaign officials.
By the way, I also welcomed Democrats’ participation in the interviews. Unfortunately, the same equal access and transparency doesn’t exist in the House these days.
I have routinely challenged the administration’s policies and engaged in robust oversight to hold them accountable. My oversight and investigations unit has sent almost 300 letters to the Executive Branch since President Trump took his oath of office. I am an equal-opportunity overseer because I seek the facts irrespective of party and no matter where they lead. I don’t think many of the Democrats today can say the same.
These folks today who are suddenly so concerned about congressional oversight are the same ones who had no interest whatsoever in defending the institutions of the Legislative Branch when the Obama administration was in office. And frankly, I find it all too convenient that the Democrats today have used allegations of wrongdoing against the President that actually apply much more clearly to their own political leaders.
Let us begin with the now-debunked Russia collusion investigation.
First, the Clinton campaign hired Fusion GPS to do opposition research against candidate Trump.
Second, the Democratic National Committee did the same.
Third, Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, a former British Intelligence Officer, to compile the “Steele Dossier.” Even James Comey, a man that leaked sensitive government records to spark a Special Counsel investigation, called the Dossier, “salacious and unverified.” That same Dossier factored heavily in the FBI’s investigation against Trump.
Fourth, Fusion GPS used Russian government sources for information in the Dossier.
It’s a fact – not merely an allegation – that the Clinton campaign and Democrat party used a foreign intel officer and information from the Russian government to undermine the Trump campaign and, later, his administration. Not Trump. No, Trump didn’t do any of that. It was the Democrats.
Their actions literally fit their own definition of collusion.
Maybe that’s why the Democrats have failed to seek documents and information relating to how and why the now-debunked FBI investigation into Russian collusion started – because the Democrats would be front and center.
Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation didn’t look at the Democrats’ role in collusion either. After two years, more than 2,800 subpoenas, approximately 500 search warrants and witness interviews, and $30 million in taxpayer money, that report ignored what the Clinton campaign and Democrats did.
I can see why President Trump would be so frustrated at being incorrectly painted as a Russian agent.
Now that the collusion narrative has been destroyed, the Democrats have turned to Ukraine.
First, the news reports said Trump offered a quid pro quo.
Then, Trump released not only the call transcript with the Ukrainian president but the intelligence community complaint. Those were extraordinary acts of transparency.
The call and complaint showed no quid pro quo. The call showed that Trump was concerned about whether Ukraine had a role in the debunked Russia collusion narrative. This is a reasonable concern, and it’s one that I share.
On July 20, 2017, I wrote to the Justice Department about reports of brazen efforts by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign to use the government of Ukraine for the express purpose of finding negative information on then-candidate Trump in order to undermine his campaign.
Ukrainian officials reportedly, “helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers.”
Moreover, Nellie Ohr, the wife of Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, stated during a congressional interview that Fusion GPS used a Ukrainian politician as a source for derogatory material against then-candidate Trump.
It’s no wonder then that President Trump is concerned about Ukraine’s involvement in the debunked Russian collusion narrative.
The phone call also showed that he was concerned about then-Vice President Biden firing a prosecutor that was investigating one of the largest natural gas firms in the world. That firm happened to employ Biden’s son. Years later, Biden bragged about getting the prosecutor fired:
“…we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, [cuss word]. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
The Democrats have argued that Trump has tried to get the government of Ukraine to look into this matter to benefit his political campaign. Yet, it doesn’t sound like there’s much concern from many on the other side of the aisle about what Biden claimed to have done.
There’s also another call transcript I’d like to share. This one says the following:
“…we put some more ideas down to resolve the airport dispute we have with British Airways, USAIR, and American Airlines. Would you take another look at that and see if we can get it done?”
“…it’s sort of a big deal here….in a political season, it would be big over here to get this open sore resolved. If you could have somebody take a look at it…”
That was President Bill Clinton asking for a political favor during the 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George Bush.
I don’t hear any objections from the Democrats about the substance of that call. Now, the Democrats have also accused the President of obstructing congress. Here, too, they have selective memory.
The Democrats, and the Obama Justice Department, didn’t bat an eye when Clinton’s associates deleted records subject to congressional subpoena and preservation orders.
In March of 2015, Secretary Clinton’s attorneys had a conference call with Paul Combetta, the man that helped manage Clinton’s non-government server. After that call, he deleted Clinton’s emails with BleachBit, a software program designed to prevent forensic recovery. Combetta admitted he lied to the FBI in his initial interviews, and got immunity from the FBI in exchange for agreeing to tell the truth. So, the Obama administration gave immunity to the person that deleted Clinton’s emails after a call with her attorneys. To this day, the FBI has yet to explain why.
During the course of the FBI’s investigation, it recovered thousands of work-related emails that were not turned over to the State Department by Secretary Clinton. The FBI also recovered work-related emails that Secretary Clinton and her associates apparently deleted.
All of this is clear evidence of alienation of federal records, a federal crime.
What also troubles me about one aspect of the Clinton investigation is that the FBI agreed to limit the scope of review to her time as Secretary of State. That eliminated potentially highly relevant emails before and after her tenure that could have shed light on why she operated the non-government server.
It also eliminated emails around the time of that conference call that could have shown what exactly was intended in deleting those emails. That limitation of scope defies reason.
And lastly, the FBI agreed to destroy records and laptops of Clinton’s associates after reviewing them. That’s an astonishing agreement in light of the fact those records could have been relevant to ongoing congressional inquiries that the FBI knew about.
Where were the Democrats when all of that happened? Where was their outrage at the potential obstruction of justice and obstruction of congressional oversight?
Seems to me that if the Democrats want to be consistent they’ll have to address what was done – and what was totally ignored – in the Clinton investigation.
Russia, Clinton, Ukraine. The Democrats have ignored facts relating to these investigations that would destroy their political narrative. But, facts matter and they’re not going away.
It’s a shame they’ve gone down this road in such a blatant attempt to remove a duly elected President from power simply because they can’t get over the 2016 election.
Instead of coming together to work for the American people and pass trade deals and legislation that would lower drug costs for seniors, the Democrats choose to gin up false political controversies while ignoring the faults and involvement of their own political leaders.
Get over yourselves. All of us will be footnotes to footnotes in history.
It’s the policies that we leave behind that will matter for future generations, not smear campaigns.