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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyWoman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh MORE (R-Iowa) rebuked the Justice Department in a letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program 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 ClintonAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports Paul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book MORE's private email server.

In January, Grassley took aim at former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April 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."