February 10, 2022
Grassley Statement at Hearing on Nominations and Legislation to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Support Survivors
We have four judicial nominees up today: Andre Mathis, Jessica
Clarke, Hector Gonzalez and Fred Slaughter. We’ll also be voting on Andrew Fois
to be the chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States. We
can voice vote on two U.S. Attorney nominees and two U.S. Marshal nominees.
I plan to support Judge Slaughter’s nomination.
I’d like to say a few words about why I’ll be opposing Mr.
Mathis’s nomination to the Sixth Circuit. The Tennessee senators worked to find
a nominee who they could support. They put forward Judge Camille McMullen, a
state court appellate judge, who had been appointed by a Democratic governor.
Unfortunately, the Biden administration refused to work with them.
Voting to move Mr. Mathis’s nomination would condone the Biden administration’s
That process caused the White
House to miss out on valuable feedback from the Tennessee senators who know the
legal community in their state.
When I was chairman, I made
sure the White House had meaningful consultations with members before moving
The senators have valid concerns about Mr. Mathis’s lack of
federal appellate experience and his lack of attention to detail.
He made an unusually high number of mistakes in failing to follow
the Sixth Circuit’s rules. Some of those mistakes might be small. But the
people of Tennessee aren’t going to see it as a little thing if details get
missed in deciding their cases.
Some have also suggested Mr.
Mathis may be a moderate on the bench. But he is a fairly junior attorney with
a short record. He hasn’t worked on cases involving major constitutional
issues. Unlike the candidate proposed by the Tennessee senators, he has no body
of judicial opinions to review.
One thing we can look at as evidence of his judicial philosophy is
the article he wrote in law school. In it, he advocated for federal courts to
adopt a new standard for habeas cases.
As Senator Hawley explained at his hearing, that theory of habeas
review is radically outside of the mainstream. So his scholarship doesn’t
support the claim that he would be a moderate.
Because of these concerns, I’ll be voting no.
Turning to the bills that are
on the agenda today: I’m a proud cosponsor of the EARN It Act. This bill takes
an important step in holding online service providers accountable for the
horrific spread of child sexual abuse materials.
I’ve long been a supporter of victims’ rights and have fought for
efforts that stop the spread of child sexual abuse material. In 2018, I
cosponsored the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, commonly known as “SESTA,”
which is designed to hold website operators accountable when they knowingly
facilitate sex trafficking.
After news reports emerged of sexual abuse of young amateur
athletes in 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee, during my chairmanship,
convened a hearing on this subject. I later worked with my colleagues on
bipartisan legislation that would make it mandatory for instructors, coaches
and others who work with young athletes to report cases of child sexual abuse
to the authorities.
I led our committee in reporting this bill, known as the
Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act, to the full Senate, and it was later
enacted. It’s important to find ways to stop the spread of exploitative and
sexual material, and this legislation does just that.
This commonsense bill received unanimous bipartisan support in the
Judiciary Committee last Congress, and it’s time we get it on the books to
prevent future child exploitation online.
The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act
of 2021 will also be considered today.
This bill would enable survivors who were victims of over a dozen
federal child sex abuse offenses to seek civil damages in federal court – no
matter how long it has taken the survivor to process and disclose the abuse he
or she suffered.
Delayed disclosure has historically impacted survivor’s path to
justice. We can’t deter children in any way from speaking out against their
We know from the Larry Nassar case and many other tragic examples
that it can take years for survivors to muster up the courage to come forward. This
bill sends a clear message to the victims of these horrendous crimes: We see
you, we hear you, and we support you.
I’d also like to discuss another example of the Justice
Department’s failure to respond to this committee’s oversight requests.
On February 3 last week, the Justice Department purported to respond
to five of my oversight letters in a single letter.
The department also noted that since January 20, 2021, I have “written
or joined approximately 50 letters to the department, representing about one
third of all letters the department received from Members of the United States
I’m not sure Attorney General Garland said that as a compliment.
In that letter, the department noted that I provided a binder of
unanswered letters to Attorney General Garland during his confirmation.
The department noted that it responded to those letters.
The department is dead wrong.
My staff made clear to the department last year that its so-called
Non-responsive letters that I’ve had for years. The department
essentially reissued the same letters.
New response letters that failed to fully answer the questions
posed. You can put words on a piece of paper. That doesn’t mean it’s
The department failed to provide a single page of responsive
As to the five letters the department said it responded to, they
failed there as well.
As part of my and Senator Johnson’s ongoing investigation into the
Biden family’s foreign business deals, we asked for FISA information on Patrick
Patrick Ho was connected to the Chinese government’s intelligence
services. Hunter Biden reportedly represented him for one million dollars.
The department confirmed in federal court that it has FISA information
on Patrick Ho. But the department wrote
a letter to me and Senator Johnson saying that it couldn’t confirm the same.
The department again refused to explain why the Attorney General
won’t say whether Nicholas McQuaid is recused from the Hunter Biden criminal
case. Yet the department has publicly confirmed that other employees are not
involved in other criminal cases.
The department again refused to fully answer my and Senator
Johnson’s letters about the Mueller team wiping their government phones of
data. However, after pulling teeth to get documents from the department, it
provided records to me.
Unfortunately, those records were filled with improper FOIA
redactions. And they didn’t include the necessary spreadsheets.
I also want to know if career employees were consulted when the
Biden administration set its weak crime policy. Because if they weren’t, then
it would indicate political considerations infected the process. No answer.
As to my letter on COVID-19 and nursing home investigations, the department
is hiding behind its policy that it doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations.
As we all know, the department can speak to ongoing investigations
if they’re in the public interest.
So, the Biden Justice Department has essentially taken the
position that COVID-19 and nursing home deaths aren’t in the public
Simply put, the department’s conduct is a complete embarrassment.
Their conduct is a slap in the face to this committee.
Chairman Durbin, I’ll say it again: This committee must assert its
constitutional oversight authority on the Justice Department.