Keep the Iowa Standard Going!
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today is again calling on the Justice Department to show its work in the case against Lt. General Michael Flynn. The Justice Department’s recent motion to dismiss the criminal case against Flynn in light of exculpatory evidence doesn’t absolve the government of public scrutiny or accountability, Grassley wrote today in a letter to Attorney General William Barr and acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.
“Given what we now know about the government’s withholding of exculpatory information, and as critics scrutinize the department’s decision to withdraw the case, it’s imperative that the department show all of its work. Without transparency there will never be true accountability. I strongly encourage you to ramp up your efforts to shine a light on political and bureaucratic wrongdoing during the Russia investigation and declassify and produce the aforementioned records to me,” Grassley wrote.
Grassley’s letter renews his years-old request for access to records at the heart of the government’s case, including a call transcript between Flynn and a Russian diplomat and all iterations of a report summarizing the FBI’s interview with Flynn, as well as any related records.
Grassley first requested the material in a February 2017, letter co-signed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The Justice Department refused to provide the records, first arguing that the Flynn case was ongoing, and later claiming that the public court filings provided sufficient transparency. In a June 2018, letter to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Grassley warned: “Resisting Congressional oversight only serves to further undermine public trust in the Department. By contrast, cooperation could enhance public trust in the Department by demonstrating that its work can withstand independent scrutiny. The lack of transparency feeds public skepticism about the Department’s actions regarding Lt. General Flynn and related matters.”
The recent disclosure of exculpatory department records, which prompted the motion to dismiss the Flynn case, illustrate the merit of Grassley’s early concerns as well as the need for additional transparency to restore public trust in the department.
Full text of Grassley’s letter is below.
Aug. 25, 2017: Grassley to DNI: Declassify Flynn Material
May 29, 2018: DOJ Declines May 11, 2018 Request
April 28, 2020: Grassley Calls DOJ to Unseal New ‘Exculpatory’ Material
May 12, 2020
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable William Barr
Department of Justice
Ambassador Richard Grenell
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Dear Attorney General Barr and Ambassador Grenell:
I want to express my thanks to both of you for your strong efforts to bring transparency to the Russia investigation which have shed a much-needed light on the multitude of wrongdoings that occurred. Now that the Justice Department has rightly taken steps to dismiss the case against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, I want to ensure that the remaining information and records that have not yet been produced to Congress relating to the Flynn case are still produced. While the court case may be nearing its end, the public still expects accountability, which can only be effectively delivered through additional transparency.
In February 2017, I requested records relating to the investigation into Flynn and the overall Russia investigation. In particular, I asked for the transcript of the call between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and all records relating to his interview with the FBI, which I have yet to receive. In August 2017, I asked that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) declassify key pieces of information relating to the Flynn case. Moreover, as I noted yesterday on the Senate floor, I acquired an email sent from National Security Advisor Susan Rice that she wrote to herself on her last day in office. That email described a January 5, 2017, meeting between President Obama, Vice President Biden, Director Comey, Deputy Attorney General Yates, and Rice where they discussed the Russia investigation. That email, along with the DIA records, contains classified information that should be declassified because the public interest in the information outweighs the need to protect it. Accordingly, I request that those records be declassified.
And finally, public reports have indicated that the names of Obama administration officials who unmasked Flynn and others have been declassified.
The underlying records to the Flynn case and Russia investigation are more important than ever. Congress, and most importantly the public, must fully understand the wrongdoing that occurred so that it is never repeated. In June of 2018, I warned then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that resisting transparency and oversight would only undermine faith in the Justice Department. I noted to him that regardless of the outcome of the case, Congress has a wholly separate, independent, constitutional oversight interest in the information. Mr. Rosenstein continued to resist congressional oversight and suggested that Congress should be satisfied with the facts described in the plea agreement. I have also noted that cooperation with Congress could enhance public trust in the Department by demonstrating that its work can withstand independent scrutiny.
Given what we now know about the government’s withholding of exculpatory information, and as critics scrutinize the Department’s decision to dismiss the case, it’s imperative that the Department show all of its work. Without transparency there will never be true accountability. I strongly encourage you to ramp up your efforts to shine a light on political and bureaucratic wrongdoing during the Russia investigation and declassify and produce the aforementioned records to me no later than May 27, 2020. Should you have questions, please contact Joshua Flynn-Brown of my Committee staff at 202-224-4515.
Charles E. Grassley
Committee on Finance
February 15, 2017, letter from Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein to Attorney General Sessions and Director Comey
August 25, 2017, letter from Chairman Grassley to Secretary of Defense Mattis and Director of DIA Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart
May 11, 2018, letter from Chairman Grassley to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Director Wray
June 6, 2018, letter from Chairman Grassley to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein
April 27, 2020, letter from Chairman Grassley to Attorney General Barr