Attack has Grassley concerned for his staff

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said yesterday that he is concerned about the safety of all of his staffers in the wake of last week’s assault on the chief investigator for the Senate Finance Committee.

An unidentified man attacked Emilia DiSanto, who has assisted committee Chairman Grassley on a series of controversial oversight inquiries in recent months, on the evening of Nov. 2 at her suburban Virginia home. Investigators have not determined the weapon used in the assault on DiSanto, but Grassley echoed internal suspicion that her assailant used a baseball bat.

“If this is work-related, there’s a lot of people on my staff who might be in a dangerous situation,” said Grassley, visibly disturbed.

The FBI and Capitol Police are exploring whether the assault is related to DiSanto’s work for Grassley, focusing on the unique circumstances of the incident. The attacker was dressed in black with a hood obscuring his face and made no demands for money from DiSanto.

Grassley said a work-related motivation could not be ruled out.

“You just don’t know,” he said. Federal law enforcement has joined the case based on concerns that DiSanto’s role in Grassley’s high-profile anti-corruption efforts could have put her in physical danger.

Two days after the attack on DiSanto, a bomb threat was issued against a Marshalltown, Iowa, veterans home hours before a scheduled appearance by Grassley. Though local police said the senator was not a target of the threat, which turned out to be a false alarm, the timing of the Iowa and DiSanto incidents could become a focus of the Washington investigation.

Grassley said the physical welfare of DiSanto and others on his staff is his chief focus.

“I’m more concerned about that than the bomb threat,” he said.