Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Reports Spark New Questions of Political Conflict for Acting FBI Head

 WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is asking the Justice Department to address more revelations of potential conflicts in the FBI’s handling of recent politically charged investigations.  Grassley’s request follows new reports that the acting director engaged in a political campaign and is the subject of an ongoing sex discrimination complaint supported by former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.  In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Grassley outlined the various investigations into acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and any potential conflicts of interest resulting from his role in the FBI probes.

According to recent media reports, the Office of Special Counsel is reviewing whether McCabe inappropriately engaged in political campaign activity during his wife’s bid to be a Virginia state senator.  Last fall news reports revealed that McCabe’s wife’s campaign received nearly $700,000 from close allies of Hillary Clinton at the same time that McCabe was working the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s mishandling of classified information and use of a private email server for State Department business.

McCabe is also reportedly the subject of an open Equal Employment Opportunity complaint for alleged gender discrimination dating back to 2014. In that case, Flynn reportedly submitted a letter of support on behalf of a female FBI agent who reported the discrimination. Despite the Flynn’s role in the open complaint against McCabe, McCabe still worked on the FBI’s investigation into Flynn’s communications with Russian officials.

Under Justice Department protocol, employees are advised to recuse from investigations if their involvement would create even the appearance of conflict. The Justice Department Inspector General is reviewing actions by the FBI and Justice Department in the lead up to the 2016 election, including whether McCabe should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters.

Today’s letter follows concerns raised by Grassley in May regarding McCabe’s ability to be independent and the FBI’s failure to respond to related questions by the Committee.

Full text of the Grassley’s letter to Rosenstein follows:

June 28, 2017

 

VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION

 The Honorable Rod J. Rosenstein

Deputy Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Rosenstein,

On May 2, 2017, I wrote to you regarding Acting Director McCabe’s apparent conflicts in ongoing FBI investigations due to, among other things, his relationship with Gov. Terry McAuliffe and asked what steps you have taken to address the appearance of political bias at the FBI.  It now appears that Acting Director McCabe is the subject of three separate pending investigations.

First, the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General is examining his failure to recuse himself from the Clinton investigation due to his political relationship with McAuliffe.  Second, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is investigating allegations that he violated the Hatch Act by engaging in political campaign activities.[1]  Third, he is also reportedly the subject of a pending Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint by a female FBI agent for sex discrimination, who alleges she was targeted for retaliation because of her complaint.[2]  According to new press reports, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn provided a letter of support for the complainant in that case, which raises serious questions about why Mr. McCabe also failed to recuse himself from investigations involving Mr. Flynn.[3]  In addition, a recent press report states that three FBI employees, “personally witnessed McCabe make disparaging remarks about Flynn before and during the time the retired Army general emerged as a figure in the Russia case.”[4]  That evidence and the failure to recuse calls into question whether Mr. McCabe handled the Flynn investigation fairly and objectively, or whether he had any retaliatory motive against Flynn for being an adverse witness to him in a pending proceeding.

In the May 2 letter, I noted the FBI’s failure to respond to the Committee’s previous questions.  However, to date, you have failed to respond.  On December 14, 2016, the FBI provided the ethical and recusal protocol applied to Mr. McCabe regarding his potential conflicts of interest in ongoing and future FBI investigations.  Oddly, Mr. McCabe was the approval authority for his own recusal memo.  That document contains a number of redactions.  The Committee requires unredacted copies of the document for its inquiry.

Accordingly, please provide an unredacted copy of the attached document no later than July 12, 2017.  In addition, please provide a written explanation of the steps you intend to take as Mr. McCabe’s supervisor to address the appearance of political and other conflicts of interest outlined above. 

I anticipate that your written reply and any responsive documents will be unclassified. Please send all unclassified material directly to the Committee.  In keeping with the requirements of Executive Order 13526, if any of the responsive documents do contain classified information, please segregate all unclassified material within the classified documents, provide all unclassified information directly to the Committee, and provide a classified addendum to the Office of Senate Security.  Although the Committee complies with all laws and regulations governing the handling of classified information, it is not bound, absent its prior agreement, by any handling restrictions or instructions on unclassified information unilaterally asserted by the Executive Branch.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation with this request.  If you have questions, contact Josh Flynn-Brown of my Judiciary Committee staff at (202) 224-5225.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley

Chairman

Senate Committee on the Judiciary                    

 

Prepared Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee

Executive Business Meeting

June 29, 2017

VIDEO

Today we have several nominees on the agenda as well as two bills that we’ll be voting on.

The following nominees are on the agenda for the first time and the other side has asked that they be held over this week. So, the following nominees will be held over this week:

–          John Bush, 6th Circuit

–          Kevin Newson, 11th Circuit

–          Damien Schiff, Federal Claims

Today, we’ll vote on Mr. Boyd’s nomination to be Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs. I held over his nomination last time we met because I was waiting for responses from the Department of Justice. I’ve had some productive conversations with Department leadership about this, and have received some good faith responses, so I’m willing to move Mr. Boyd’s nomination out of Committee today.

I understand that the Department is actively working on Senator Durbin’s requests as well. Of course, the Committee is still waiting for and expects full responses to my inquiries, particularly the ones I’ve identified as high priority. And I expect continued cooperation as his nomination moves to the Floor.

The first bill on our agenda is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017, S. 1312. It would extend some of the key grant programs that were last authorized under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2013. These programs make resources available so that human trafficking survivors can get the help they need to recover from this terrible crime.  Senators Feinstein, Cornyn, Klobuchar, Hatch, Leahy, Crapo, Coons, Tillis, Blumenthal, Corker, Rubio, and Brown are cosponsors.

We worked closely with human trafficking victim advocates on the development of this bill, which calls for specialized training of judges and federal investigators on human trafficking. We also included language to promote training of school personnel on how to respond to potential victims.

The bill requires the FBI to report on the status of its Innocence Lost Initiative, and it calls for other federal agencies to report more crime data to the FBI. The bill also updates the Missing Children’s Assistance Act, which authorizes activities carried out by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Another provision, crafted by Ranking Member Feinstein, gives prosecutors a new tool to use against human traffickers.

Organizations supporting the bill include the National Children’s Alliance, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking, Rights4Girls, Shared Hope International, Polaris, Freedom Networks, ECPAT International, The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, the National District Attorneys Association, and the National Criminal Justice Association, and the National Criminal Justice Association.

The second bill on our agenda is the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, S. 1311. Senator Cornyn is the lead sponsor, and I’m an original cosponsor. Senators Klobuchar, Feinstein, Coons, Hatch, and others also are cosponsors.

I’ll now turn to Senator Feinstein for her remarks.

 

Charles E. Grassley
Chairman
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Des Moines Office
721 Federal Building
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: 515-288-1145
Fax: 515-288-5097

 

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