June 18, 2018
Grassley: Law enforcement needs to ignore politics, follow the facts, and embrace oversight as a way to improve
Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Judiciary Committee
the Inspector General’s First Report on Justice Department and FBI Actions in
Advance of the 2016 Presidential Election”
June 18, 2018
the Committee will examine the Justice Department Inspector General report on
decisions regarding the 2016 presidential election.
is only part one. Its focus is on the Clinton email investigation. The
Trump-Russia investigation and surveillance controversies involve many of the
same players around the same timeframe, but that report will come later.
want to thank Mr. Horowitz for being here today to speak on these very
important topics. I also want to thank Director Wray for moving his schedule
around to be here today.
Committee has yet to receive the two non-public sections of the report. One is
classified and the other is described as “law enforcement sensitive.” I would
appreciate if both of the witnesses here today would work to ensure the
Committee receives them as soon as possible.
Committee also invited Former Attorney General Lynch, Former FBI Director
Comey, and former Deputy Director McCabe to testify today. Mr. McCabe’s lawyer
wrote that his client would rely on his Fifth Amendment right against
self-incrimination to avoid answering any questions here today.
Comey’s attorney tells us he is out of the country, although I saw he was in
Iowa over the weekend. According to his twitter feed, he seems to be having a
wonderful time. This is the second time since he was fired that Mr. Comey
refused an invitation to testify here voluntarily. He has time for book tours
and television interviews, but apparently no time to assist this Committee,
which has primary jurisdiction over the Justice Department.
Lynch also chose not to show up. The need for transparency does not end when
senior officials are fired or quit.
changed our rules at the beginning of this Congress to ensure the Chairman and
the Ranking Member could compel hearing testimony from important witnesses like
these. Unfortunately, the Ranking Member refused to agree to compel any of them
to be here today. That’s a shame, because we should be asking them how all of
this happened on their watch.
was some shocking news in the Inspector General’s report. Thanks to his work,
we already knew about Peter Stzrok, Lisa Page and their anti-Trump text
messages. Now, in this report we learned that at least three others at the FBI
did the same thing. The Inspector General referred all five of them for
violations of the FBI’s code of conduct. Four of these five FBI employees were
on the 15-member team investigating Hillary Clinton. That’s more than 25%.
Three of these five employees later ended up on Special Counsel Mueller’s team.
the Inspector General had not discovered their anti-Trump texts, they would
still be there today. They would still be investigating the Trump campaign.
They would still be texting about how they despised President Trump and
everyone who voted for him. They would still be plotting about how to use their
official positions to, “stop him.” We just wouldn’t know about it.
these facts every time you hear the press or my friends on the other side of
the aisle claim that this report found “no bias.” You may hear that talking
point a lot today, but don’t be fooled. Robert Mueller removed these people
from his team. Why? Obviously, because this kind of political bias has no place
in law enforcement. When it was exposed so clearly, Mr. Mueller had no other
of the time, evidence of political bias is not so explicit. The details in this
report confirm what the American people have suspected all along. Hillary
Clinton got the kid-glove treatment.
contrast to the Russia probe is stark. The biggest difference, of course, is
the appointment of a Special Counsel. Attorney General Lynch refused to appoint
one. The appearance of political influence was inevitable.
political appointees at Justice had a personal financial interest in a Clinton
victory to keep their jobs.
President Obama and his press secretary publicly signaled in April 2016 that
Secretary Clinton’s actions only amounted to “carelessness.” Director Comey and
the FBI took their cue from President Obama and picked-up the theme. In May, he
started drafting his public exoneration, which ultimately called her conduct
Ms. Lynch’s ties to the Clintons created the appearance of a conflict. She
was a partner at a law firm that represented both President and Secretary
Clinton. Bill Clinton also appointed her to be the U.S. Attorney for the
Eastern District of New York.
Ms. Lynch met privately with President Clinton days before she agreed with
the FBI to close the investigation without any charges. If there were ever a
time for a special counsel, this was it. Attorney General Lynch clearly should
have recused herself, and this lingering controversy proves it. But she refused
to step-aside, regardless of how bad it looked.
contrast, Attorney General Sessions recused himself and his Deputy, Rod
Rosenstein, appointed a hard-charging Special Counsel. The difference is night
Lynch, Comey drafted a public exoneration of Clinton before 17 key witnesses
Rosenstein, no one seriously thinks Robert Mueller would plan a press
conference to exonerate Trump before his investigators’ work is done.
Lynch, a low-level IT worker lied to the FBI twice about destroying records
under subpoena and got immunity.
Rosenstein, a low-level Trump campaign associate provided the wrong date for a
conversation with a professor and got charged with lying to the FBI.
Lynch, Clinton’s lawyers and aides who improperly held classified information
got carefully crafted agreements to limit searches of their computers by
Rosenstein, Trump’s lawyers and former aides got raided and hauled before grand
Justice Department faces a serious credibility problem because millions of
Americans suspect there is a double-standard. They see a story of kid glove
treatment for one side and bare-knuckle tactics for the other. They see
politics in that story. But, this Inspector General report is only about the
first part of that story: the Clinton matter.
report has more shocking details. It wasn’t just Hillary Clinton using private
email for official business—so was Jim Comey. It wasn’t just Andy McCabe talking
to the press—so were dozens of others at all levels of the FBI.
many FBI officials had unauthorized contacts with the media that the Inspector
General couldn’t figure out who was leaking. Reporters were plying their FBI
sources with tickets to sporting events, meals, drinks, and golf outings.
FBI has managed to promote a culture that winks at unauthorized disclosures to
the press, but punishes legally-protected whistleblowing. It stiff-arms
Congressional oversight to hide embarrassing facts, while it leaks self-serving
tidbits to friendly reporters bearing gifts. Director Wray has quite a mess to
Department has serious accountability issues. In scandal after scandal,
accountability is the exception rather than the rule. Nearly a decade ago the
Department went after the late Senator Ted Stevens. Many suspected politics was
a motivation to cut corners. Judicial investigators found two federal
prosecutors committed intentional misconduct. But, the Department’s Office of
Professional Responsibility watered it down to “reckless misconduct.” After
years of appeals and administrative proceedings, guess what? Those folks are
still federal prosecutors!
we have these senior FBI officials caught red-handed by their texts. I just
want to remind everyone what former Director Comey said on multiple occasions.
He said his people at the FBI did not give a rip about politics. Sometimes he
said they didn’t give a hoot about it. Whether it’s a rip or a hoot, either way
he was flat-out wrong.
politics was a major pre-occupation for those at the heart of both cases
related to the 2016 election, including Director Comey. His subordinates said
they were under enormous pressure to wrap it up before the political
conventions. He was concerned about how it would look if Clinton won, and he
had not reopened the case in October to examine new evidence.
Comey testified here on May 3, 2017 that he had never been an anonymous source
or authorized anyone to be one in any story on these controversies. Well, I’m
starting to wonder about that.
Inspector General recently concluded in another report that former Deputy
Director McCabe improperly authorized media leaks to make himself look good.
Then he lied about it multiple times, both under oath and to Mr. Comey. Mr.
McCabe denies that and his lawyer claims that there are emails with Mr. Comey
that vindicate him. The FBI hasn’t provided any such emails and the Inspector
General’s report doesn’t mention any.
man would agree to come here and explain it to the Committee. Whatever
happened, it is a sad state of affairs for the former top two officials at the
FBI to be in a swearing contest over press leaks.
should be blind. Law enforcement needs to ignore politics, follow the facts,
and embrace oversight as a way to improve. The Inspector General’s report ought
to be step one in the right direction. But, consequences must follow.