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 GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Drug pricing fight centers on insulin MORE (R-Iowa) rebuked the Justice Department in a letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump says he hasn't spoken to Barr about Mueller report Ex-Trump aide: Can’t imagine Mueller not giving House a ‘roadmap’ to impeachment Rosenstein: My time at DOJ is 'coming to an end' 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 ClintonDem strategist says Clinton ‘absolutely’ has a role to play in 2020 Left-leaning journalist: Sanders would be 'formidable candidate' against Trump Clinton hits EPA for approval of pesticide dump: ‘We need bees!’ MORE's private email server.

In January, Grassley took aim at former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyRosenstein: My time at DOJ is 'coming to an end' Five takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against Trump FBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it 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."