Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Wednesday ripped the Department of Justice (DOJ) for snubbing a request to appear at a committee hearing on the bombshell inspector general report that identified the FBI's failures in handling sexual abuse allegations against disgraced doctor Larry Nassar. 

Following the hearing, which included emotional testimony from Olympic gymnastic star Simone Biles and other survivors, Blumenthal told reporters at a press briefing that the DOJ leaders “have responsibility, ultimately, for the FBI, for the prosecution and for action here.” 

“The Department of Justice, today, was a no show,” he said. “The Department of Justice failed to appear.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

FBI Director Christopher Wray provided testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, in which he said he was “deeply and profoundly sorry” to the victims for the FBI's mismanagement of claims of abuse against Nassar.

However, Blumenthal noted that the FBI falls under the jurisdiction of the DOJ, pointing out that he and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinRepublicans caught in California's recall trap F-35 fighter jets may fall behind adversaries, House committee warns Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D) both sent a letter earlier this month to Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandTexas sues Biden administration over guidance on transgender worker rights Barr-Durham investigation again fails to produce a main event Grassley calls for federal prosecutor to probe botched FBI Nassar investigation MORE and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, in which they requested at least one of them to appear before the committee. 

In that letter, the senators specifically expressed “deep concern that DOJ has chosen not to prosecute the FBI agents” identified in DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report. 

Horowitz, who also testified on Wednesday, said in his July report that “despite the extraordinarily serious nature of the allegations and the possibility that Nassar’s conduct could be continuing, senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required.” 

The watchdog also said that the FBI field office did not properly respond to a July 2015 meeting in which concerns about Nassar were first raised, and also failed to adequately and factually document an interview with one of the alleged victims. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Blumenthal said Wednesday, “I want to hear something from the Department of Justice; Today, we heard nothing.” 

Former U.S. Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, who also provided testimony at the hearing and along with other survivors joined Blumenthal and Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley calls for federal prosecutor to probe botched FBI Nassar investigation Woman 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 MORE (R-Iowa) at the press briefing, told reporters that the DOJ’s absence sent a clear message. 

“The message, by them not showing up, to me sends that child abuse doesn't matter,” she said. "I think that's something that people in positions of power and these powerful organizations need to think about.” 

“I think it's completely shocking and disturbing that they didn't think it was important,” Raisman added. 

The Hill has reached out to the DOJ for comment.