Grassley Questions Attorney General at DOJ Oversight Hearing

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a former chairman and senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today pressed Attorney General Merrick Garland on the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting whistleblowers and cooperating with congressional oversight.


Grassley’s Questions follow:


Whistleblower Protections:

Attorney General Garland, at last year’s FBI oversight hearing, Director Wray committed to protecting whistleblowers that have approached my office about Justice Department and FBI wrongdoing. 


Do you commit to me, this committee and the United States Senate that any retaliatory conduct against whistleblowers will be disciplined?


DOJ & FBI Investigative Procedures

I’m going to set up a hypothetical fact pattern for you.  First, the Justice Department and FBI received information from over a dozen sources.  Second, those sources provided similar information about the potential criminal conduct relating to a single individual.  Third, that information was shared with the Department and FBI over a period of years. 


According to Department policy and procedure, what steps would the Department take to determine the truth and accuracy of the information provided by the sources?


DOJ Information on Hunter Biden

Recent lawfully protected whistleblower disclosures to my office indicate that the Justice Department and FBI had – at one time – over a dozen sources that provided potentially criminal information relating to Hunter Biden.  The alleged volume and similarity of information would demand that the Justice Department investigate the truth and accuracy of the information. Accordingly, what steps has the Justice Department taken to determine the truth and accuracy of the information provided?  Congress and the American people have a right to know. 


Delaware U.S. Attorney Independence

In April 2022, you testified to Senator Hagerty that the Hunter Biden investigation was insulated from political interference because it was assigned to a Trump-appointed holdover in the Delaware U.S. attorney’s office.  However, that could be misleading because without special counsel authority he could need the permission of another U.S. Attorney’s office in certain circumstances to bring charges outside of the District of Delaware. I’d like clarification from you with respect to these concerns. 


Does the Delaware U.S. Attorney lack independent charging authority over certain criminal allegations against the President’s son outside of the District of Delaware?


If you provided the Delaware U.S. Attorney with Special Counsel authority, isn’t it true that he wouldn’t need the permission of another U.S. Attorney to bring charges?


Has the Delaware U.S. Attorney sought the permission of another U.S. Attorney’s Office, such as in the District of Columbia or in California, to bring charges? If so, was it denied?


If the Delaware U.S. Attorney must seek permission from a Biden-appointed U.S. Attorney to bring charges, the Hunter Biden criminal investigation isn’t insulated from political interference as you’ve publicly proclaimed. 


Payments to Political Figures

If the Justice Department received information that foreign persons had evidence of improper or unlawful financial payments paid to elected officials and other politically exposed persons and those payments may have influenced policy decisions, would that pose a national security concern and demand a full investigation?


DOJ Action on Cocaine Sentencing

You told this committee that “the Executive Branch cannot simply decide, based on a policy disagreement, that it will not enforce a law at all.”  Then you released a December 16, 2022 memo instructing prosecutors to disregard the law that established a sentencing difference between cocaine and cocaine base. Your decision not to enforce the law ended Congressional discussions to change the law.


If DOJ proclaims that it will ignore the law by declining to prosecute a law that grew out of bipartisan compromise forged in this committee, it’s hard to see how members would trust that DOJ would follow any further bipartisan deal. Will you withdraw this portion of your memo so that meaningful legislative discussion can resume, and if not, why?


Nicolás Maduro

The Department of Justice charged Nicolás Maduro with narco-terrorism and drug trafficking offenses and the Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned him. Since then, the Biden Administration has released $3 billion in frozen Venezuelan assets and authorized Chevron to drill oil in Venezuela. 


Does the Department of Justice still consider Nicolás Maduro a fugitive of U.S. Justice and, if so, do you commit to diligently pursuing his arrest?


Antitrust Enforcement

I have strong concerns about competition problems in different sectors of the economy. For example, I’ve conducted oversight and drafted legislation to address abuses in the pharmaceutical, agriculture and big tech industries.  Can you tell us what the antitrust priorities are for the Justice Department under your leadership? Where is the Justice Department focusing its resources?

Author: Press Release


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