Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law

Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyPruitt’s new problem with the GOP: Ethanol Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Dems see midterm advantage in new ObamaCare fight Senate Judiciary urges response to sexual harassment in federal courts MORE (R-Iowa) rebuked the Justice Department in a letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLaura Bush blasts Trump migrant policy as 'cruel' and 'immoral' Merkley leads Dem lawmakers to border amid migrant policy outcry DHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies MORE on Tuesday over an agency policy regarding information disclosures to Congress.

In his letter, Grassley questioned Sessions about a policy described in a recent memo, which instructs Justice Department employees not to communicate with Congress without pre-approval by the agency's Office of Legislative Affairs.

Grassley, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, says the policy violates federal laws meant to protect whistleblowers.

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"I appreciate that the Department, and indeed the Executive Branch, must speak with one voice on official matters, and that it has a right to ensure that its official positions are communicated in an orderly and coherent way," Grassley wrote.

"Unfortunately, the memorandum fails to address the right of employees to make protected disclosures directly to Congress," Grassley continued. "The law is clear that any non-disclosure agreement or policy, including any policy that purports to restrict the communications of federal employees, must contain a clear exception for lawful whistleblowing."

"Denying or interfering with the right of employees to furnish information to Congress is also against the law," the chairman added.

Grassley's letter to the Justice Department comes amid increased tensions between the agency and Congress over the release of a GOP-authored memo detailing purported surveillance abuses by the FBI and months of criticism from Republicans over the handling of the investigations into Russian election meddling and into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThere are many unanswered questions about FBI culture FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts offers to testify on Capitol Hill Giuliani wants 'full and complete' investigation into Russia probe's origins MORE's private email server.

In January, Grassley took aim at former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThere are many unanswered questions about FBI culture FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts offers to testify on Capitol Hill Schiff: ‘Deeply disturbing’ that FBI gave Nunes confidential info on Clinton's emails MORE, who had tweeted about the need for an "independent" Justice Department.

"Law enforcement shld NOT be independent of constitutional oversight," Grassley tweeted last month. "Like the military, FBI/DOJ accountability to ELECTED leaders is essential for liberty. We are ACCOUNTABLE to the PEOPLE in our representative govt. Hoover FBI was unaccountable/did great harm w abuses of power."