GOP senator threatens to block Trump’s CIA nominee

Victoria Sarno Jordan

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is placing a hold on a key nominee to the CIA because the intelligence agency has failed to respond to his letters.

Grassley says he will not allow Courtney Elwood’s nomination for CIA general counsel to move forward until he is satisfied.

Grassley wants a response to letters he sent in April 2014 and last month about declassifying two whistleblower notifications. 
“More than 3 years have passed since my initial request, and I still have not received declassified versions of the documents or an explanation of why the documents have not been declassified,” Grassley wrote.
{mosads}He argued that the notifications don’t include any information about the CIA’s methods and raise “serious policy implications, as well as potential constitutional separation-of-powers issues.”  
He added that “as a matter of respect, for a coequal branch of government my declassification request should be processed in a timely manner.”
Using the hold allows Grassley to effectively block the nomination unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) forces a vote, which would eat up days of limited Senate floor time. 
{mosads}He added that his tactics weren’t tied to Elwood, but “the CIA must recognize that it has an ongoing obligation to respond to congressional inquiries in a timely and reasonable manner.”
Grassley made his formal request in the Congressional Record, which includes a daily rundown of Senate action.
Grassley noted he’s also requested a copy of the CIA’s procedures for an Obama-era policy directive on intelligence community whistleblowers, but the agency has refused to hand it over.
President Trump nominated Elwood in March, and she reported out of the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.
It’s not the first time Grassley has leveraged nominations in an attempt to get a response from executive agencies.
He held up nearly two dozen State Department nominations in an effort to get the department to respond to his letters about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aides.
Grassley also hinted to former FBI Director James Comey that he would be willing to hold up Trump nominees if Comey didn’t respond to his letters. 
“I hope that this matter can be resolved without additional holds on nominees. These are important issues that require public transparency,” Grassley wrote in the letter, released earlier this month.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also announced this week that he would hold up Sigal Mandelker, Trump’s choice for Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes, until he gets documents on financial ties between Russia and Trump associates. 
Tags Chuck Grassley Hillary Clinton Mitch McConnell Ron Wyden

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