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Senator Grassley Slams FBI for Violating the Constitutional Rights of Congress, in Order To Protect James Comey

Sept. 26, 2017 (EIRNS)—Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) slammed the FBI this week, for pulling tricks to impose limits on Congress’s Constitutional oversight rights in order to keep Congress from investigating former FBI Director James Comey’s exoneration of Hillary Clinton over her use of a private server for her emails at the height of the presidential election campaign.

Grassley issued a scathing statement against the FBI actions at the opening of a full committee hearing on another subject, along the lines of letters he sent on Monday to FBI head Christopher Wray and the head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Grassley specified that that is not Robert Mueller’s temporary prosecutorial office within the Justice Department, but "the permanent, independent investigative agency for personnel matters in the federal government." That body is responsible for enforcing the Hatch Act, which forbids federal employees from using their offices to further political activity.

The Judiciary Committee has been seeking for months testimony from FBI officials (FBI National Security Division head Carl Ghattas, and Comey’s former Chief of Staff, James Rybicki, according to The Hill), and transcripts of statements made by FBI officials to the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC) for its Hatch Act investigation.

In a press release yesterday, Grassley charged that the FBI only agreed it would cooperate with the OSC, if the OSC agreed to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements specifically prohibiting sharing information with Congress.

"In sum, the FBI held key information hostage from OSC that the agency needed to fulfill a statutorily mandated responsibility under the Hatch Act for the express purpose of limiting the rights of the Committee to obtain information from OSC,"

Grassley wrote.

Today, Grassley called the FBI’s response "bunk" and "not constitutional," denouncing the non-disclosure agreements as de facto "gag orders." Grassley asked,

"Why is the FBI so focused on keeping Congress in the dark? Why is it so afraid of shining the light of day on the controversial decisions of Mr. Comey in the months before he was fired?"

The Senate Judiciary Committee does not accept this argument, and expects full, complete disclosure of all documents, he stated.

Offered an opportunity to comment, ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she was "in general agreement with the Chair," then speaking on a different matter.