Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Judiciary Committee
Whistleblower Protections at the FBI
President, I want to clear up a few things. I have been seeing reports that
individuals within our federal law enforcement agencies want to talk to
Congress about problems they have seen on the job. But, the reports say these
individuals want to be subpoenaed by congressional committees, rather than
coming forward voluntarily. There is a perception that without a subpoena, they
have no legal protection against retaliation for cooperating with Congress.
That is nonsense and a misperception that has been fomented by FBI and DOJ
leadership for many years.
hard to strengthen legal protections, especially for FBI employees. You have a
right to cooperate with Congressional inquiries, just as you have a right to
cooperate with the Inspector General. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
and all federal law enforcement are protected for providing information to
Congress. That’s true whether it is by a subpoena or not. If that is news to
you, I encourage you to research the law yourself. It is found at title 5,
United States Code, section 2303.
As you will
see, nowhere in that law do its protections require a subpoena. Nor do they
require the approval of an agent’s chain of command or congressional affairs
federal appropriations law also forbids the use of taxpayer dollars to pay the
salary of any individual who interferes with, or attempts to interfere with, a
federal employee’s right to communicate directly with Congress.
Government Accountability Office recently found that an Obama Housing and Urban
Development congressional affairs official did just that in 2013, so paying
that salary violated the restrictions Congress had placed on the money. Based
on that ruling HUD initiated collection efforts to recover a portion of the
salary paid illegally as a debt owed back to the United States.
the power of the purse, and the bureaucrats need to understand that funding for
their salaries comes with strings attached. You can’t prevent federal employees
from talking directly to Congress. Period. Don’t even try.
bureaucrats have so much contempt for an employee who voluntarily informs the
people’s elected representatives of facts necessary to do oversight, then we
still have a lot of work to do. That kind of thinking is dangerous, and totally
contrary to law.
And if that
perception is persisting throughout law enforcement, or indeed throughout the
government, then the leaders of those agencies are not doing their jobs. They
are failing in their responsibilities
as leaders. They are failing their
workforce. And they are failing the
I don’t want
anyone out there to be confused. If you are a federal employee and you want to
disclose wrongdoing to Congress or cooperate with a Congressional inquiry, you
are legally allowed to do so. You should not have to fear retaliation.
No FBI agent
or other government employee should be afraid to cooperate with Congress or the
Inspector General. Any FBI agent who has information to provide or questions
about their rights to provide it should not hesitate to reach out and ask.
people there who can tell you more about what protections may apply to your