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Both Dems and GOP on Senate Judiciary Slam DOJ, FBI for Stonewalling Them

'There is something going on over there that looks an awful lot like a formal policy not to answer our questions...'

Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday joined in rare bipartisan unity to criticize the FBI and Justice Department for ignoring congressional oversight inquiries.

Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., both demanded that the nation’s top law-enforcement and criminal-justice arms be more forthcoming with Congress, which has constitutional authority to oversee and regulate the executive branch.

“I’ve been trying to get a phone call with the attorney general for more than a month now, and all I want to do is get an update on my request for information—answers to letters,” Grassley said.

“And particularly—because we might get an answer to a letter, but we never get any of the documents we want,” he added.

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Grassley said FBI Director Christopher Wray has refused to meet in person, give document, or provide a written explanation about a 2020 FBI briefing that leaked to the media.

Whitehouse, despite being a Democrat who works with a Democratic administration, said he has faced the same stonewalling.

“There is something going on over there [at the Justice Department] that looks an awful lot like a formal policy not to answer our questions,” he said. “We are going to have to come to a proper resolution of this so that the oversight capacity of all of us as senators is not completely blunted by blockades in the executive branch.”

Whitehouse praised President Joe Biden‘s administration for its change of “tone,” but he said “oversight isn’t done through better tone; it’s done through an information flow that allows us access to the documents that we need.”

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They both agreed that the FBI and Justice Department—as well as subordinate agencies within them—have consistently failed to satisfy oversight requests on time or at all.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., suggested a conference with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Wray to “address this issue.”

“Sen. Grassley and Sen. Whitehouse, I think you raise legitimate concerns and I’d suggest that instead of waiting for emails or letters to clear, we get to the bottom of this,” he said.

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