The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is pushing top Obama administration officials for details on its effort to detain a key suspect in the Benghazi terrorist attack.
Sen. ChucK Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryIran’s nuclear deal just the tip of the iceberg for Trump Trump needs to stand firm on immigration, 'religious-test' insticts Budowsky: Ellison, Kerry to DNC? MORE and a separate letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Channing Phillips, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, to try to determine if the administration used every option to prevent Ali Awni al-Harzi from being released.
Harzi, who is suspected of being involved in the 2012 attack, was originally detained in Turkey in 2012, before being sent to Tunisia. He was then released in early 2013 and killed in a U.S.-led airstrike in Iraq targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) last year.
As part of his letter to Kerry, Grassley wants any records of former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonThis Week in Cybersecurity: Dems press for information on Russian hacks Armed man arrested at DC pizzeria targeted by conspiracy theory Clinton opponents vow to continue their pursuit MORE's communications with Tunisian officials about Harzi, as well as any records of communication between Clinton and former FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Grassley said that Clinton had assured Congress that Harzi was being monitored by the Tunisian government after he was released.
"Secretary Clinton further assured Congress that the State Department would hold the Tunisians to that pledge and would monitor the situation carefully," he wrote in the letter sent late last week but released Tuesday.
He also wants to know about any involvement the State Department had with the Turkish or Tunisian governments when Harzi was detained, including if the State Department pushed either government to allow the FBI to have access to Harzi and if the State Department got updates from the Tunisian government after he was released.
Grassley said that while the FBI briefed his committee staff, they declined to answer questions about the State Department's involvement.
In a separate letter to Lynch and Phillips, Grassley wants to know if the DOJ was asked to file charges against Harzi and wants any documents related to the request. If the department determined no charges should be filed, he wants to know who made that decision.
He also wants to know if the U.S. government considered or tried extraditing Harzi from Tunisia or Turkey, as well as details on any potential DOJ prosecution, including if they tried to collect criminal evidence against him.
He added in his letter to Phillips and Lynch that he wants to know if the government considered Harzi for a law-of-war detention instead of using the court system. Grassley was one of 10 Republican senators who questioned the administration last year on why it was using courts rather than military commissions to try suspected terrorists.