Grassley Accuses FBI Of Withholding Information On Russia Investigations

Bill Clark/CQPHO

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) accused federal law enforcement officers of withholding key information from lawmakers investigating Russia’s alleged interference into the 2016 election.

In a charged Wednesday phone call with the Washington Post, Grassley said FBI Director James Comey has not yet responded to his letter asking whether the agency is conducting its own probe on alleged ties between Donald Trump’s staffers and Russian officials.

“Every time they come up here for their nomination hearing and I ask them are you going to answer phone calls and our letters and are you going to give us the documents you want? And every time we get a real positive yes! And then they end up being liars!” Grassley told the Post, referring to senior law enforcement officials. “It’s not if they’re treating us differently than another committee. It’s if they’re responding at all.”

Grassley warned the Justice Department this week that he would refuse to move forward with confirmation hearings for Trump’s nominee for deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, until he has a response. He told the Post he’d heard from staffers that he would receive a “positive answer” from Comey at some point on Wednesday.

Other lawmakers are growing similarly impatient. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Comey a “fine man” but said he “still” doesn’t have an answer on whether the FBI is conducting an investigation on Russia and the Trump campaign. Graham announced that the FBI will hold a classified briefing with Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking member, to respond to his own letter asking if a warrant was ever issued to surveil any Trump campaign staffer.

On Wednesday morning, House Intelligence Committee leaders threatened to subpoena the DOJ if the agency fails to respond to their request for evidence to support Trump’s allegation that former President Barack Obama had his “wires tapped” at Trump Tower.

Correction: This article originally misidentified the deputy U.S. attorney general nominee under Senate consideration. That nominee is Rod. J. Rosenstein, not Dana Boente, the acting deputy attorney general.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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