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 GrassleyWife of 'Glow' director writes 'Stop Kavanaugh' on her arm for Emmy Awards Grassley agrees to second Kavanaugh hearing after GOP members revolt Murkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify MORE (R-Iowa) rebuked the Justice Department in a letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill’s 12:30 Report — Kavanaugh accuser willing to testify | Kavanaugh denies allegations, says he’s willing to testify | 50 days from the midterms Ken Starr backs Mueller, says president 'must be held accountable' The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil 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 to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe Hypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC Clinton: Hard to ignore 'racial subtext of virtually everything Trump says' MORE's private email server.

In January, Grassley took aim at former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey tweets: 'We always emerge stronger from hard times' Trump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe Lisa Page bombshell: FBI couldn’t prove Trump-Russia collusion before Mueller appointment 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."