Is classifying documents being used to cover up FBI and DOJ misdeeds?
The powerful head of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday accused the FBI and the Justice Department of bad faith in trying to suppress key sensitive details of the Russian election meddling scandal in 2016 and the Obama administration’s handling of the investigation.The FBI and DOJ have clearly lost the confidence of Republicans in Congress and these attempts to suppress uncomfortable disclosures about their conduct only adds to the loss of confidence. I am not sure how they can regain the confidence of Congress without a house cleaning and new people that are seen as trustworthy being put in charge.
In the latest sign of rising bad blood between congressional Republicans and the nation’s top law enforcement agencies, committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, took to the Senate floor to say the FBI and Justice Department appeared to be abusing classification standards to prevent the release of information to back up his criminal referral for Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer and author of the infamous Trump opposition research dossier, for lying to federal investigators. He said the lack of cooperation raised larger questions.
“If the Justice Department is afraid of independent oversight, that just reinforces people’s suspicions and skepticism,” he said. “The only real way to reassure people is to let the sun shine in and let the chips fall where they may.”
The Judiciary Committee head also voiced sympathy for House Republicans who he said are facing some of the same classification issues in trying to get out their findings on what they say may be abuses of government surveillance programs by the Obama administration and the FBI as the Russia collusion probe was gearing up in the final months of the presidential race.
The Senate Judiciary Committee “has access to the same information that the House intelligence committee saw before drafting its summary memo ,” Mr. Grassley said. “Based on what I know, I agree that as much of this information should made be public as soon as possible, through the appropriate process.
“Most of this story can be told, and should be told,” he added. “The American people deserve the truth.”
Mr. Grassley made the comments amid mounting frustration by House and Senate Republicans that the FBI and some Justice Department officials were trying to sharply restrict the public release of information on how they handled the Russia investigation and the possible illegal surveillance of Trump associates when deciding to open the case during the presidential campaign.
House Republicans are also running into classification roadblocks while trying to make public their own four-page memo, put together by Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, summarizing results of a Republican staff investigation into abuses by the Justice Department and FBI in the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
“It sure looks like a bureaucratic game of hide-the-ball rather than a genuine concern about national security,” Mr. Grassley said.