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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 GrassleyOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law MORE (R-Iowa) rebuked the Justice Department in a letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law New immigration policy leaves asylum seekers in the lurch 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 ClintonTrump touts report Warner attempted to talk to dossier author Poll: Nearly half of Iowans wouldn’t vote for Trump in 2020 Rubio on Warner contact with Russian lobbyist: It’s ‘had zero impact on our work’ MORE's private email server.

In January, Grassley took aim at former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGrassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law Protecting the special counsel is an American duty Bannon likely to meet next week with Mueller: report 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."