Enzi, Grassley and Collins Request Transfer of Funds to Avoid Shutdown of Agency Inspector General

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined with several other senators today to request that the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) be able to transfer additional funds to avoid a shutdown of the Office of Inspector General (IG) after a law passed last year gutted funding for the office.  Senator Enzi was joined by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ranking Member on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

"We have been informed by the Office of the Inspector General that this cut will result in a reduction of more than 75 percent of full time personnel in the next several weeks," the senators wrote. "Consequently, the office ... will be substantially limited in performing the three statutorily required audits, and will have to discontinue all ongoing investigations of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer resources."

The need for a functioning IG has been illustrated by recent problems at the agency that include President Obama's 2009 firing of the last Inspector General after the office found waste, duplication, ineffective spending, and repeated violations of the grant rules for several programs funded by the CNCS.  According to the two most recent semi-annual reports, the CNCS Office of the Inspector General identified more than $959,000 in questionable costs and more than $581,000 in funding that could be used more efficiently.  The office identified more than $4 million in potential funds to be recovered from individuals and grantee organizations found to have engaged in fraud, waste and abuse. The IG also assisted the Justice Department in investigating several criminal matters, including obtaining a guilty plea in a conspiracy to steal more than $325,000 in federal grant funds from American Samoa.

You can read the full letter here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Senator Chuck Grassley today said that a report he requested from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's office confirmed the accounts he heard from whistleblowers about the undue pressure placed on Immigration Service Officers to approve immigration benefits.  The report was released today, and a copy of the report can be found here.

Today's statement below is followed by a comment Grassley released on Friday in response to a draft copy of the report.  Grassley's request to the Inspector General, as well as letters to Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano can be found here.

"The report clearly shows that the immigration service has a lot of work to do to get rid of the 'Get to yes' culture that has pervaded the agency in recent years. The fact that a quarter of the immigration service officers felt pressure to approve questionable applications, and 90 percent of respondents felt they didn't have sufficient time to complete interviews of those who seek benefits, certainly warrants significant changes be made immediately.

"What's most disappointing in this final report is the agency's decision to turn a blind eye to several very good recommendations from the Inspector General.  For example, it only makes sense that policies be established to make sure there is a legitimate and fair process when a manager intervenes in a benefits case.  Director Mayorkas should reconsider the department's initial response to some of the recommendations and create an environment that ensures a thorough and complete analysis of all applications."

Here's Grassley's statement from Friday.

"Whistleblowers have been complaining for several years that leadership in Washington, D.C. and immediate supervisors were placing inappropriate pressure on immigration adjudicators to simply find a way to approve benefits.  This 'Get to yes' attitude doesn't serve the American people who expect a thorough and complete analysis.  When a quarter of the immigration service officers felt pressure to approve questionable applications, and 90 percent of respondents felt they didn't have sufficient time to complete interviews of those who seek benefits, there are serious and widespread problems that need to be addressed by the department.  This comes down to the safety and security of the American people, which should not be compromised by any means.

"The Inspector General took to heart the concerns he heard from Immigration Service Officers, and he made some serious and thoughtful recommendations.  I'm particularly interested in the implementation of recommendations by the Inspector General to develop standards to permit more time for an adjudicator's review of case files, develop a policy to establish limitations for managers and attorneys when they intervene in the adjudication of specific cases, and issue policy that ends any informal appeals process and the special review of denied cases.  These get at the heart of the whistleblowers' allegations, and would go a long way to changing the 'Get to yes' culture that prevails at the agency."

with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

 

Q:        How do young Americans get a place at the U.S. service academies?

A:         Starting more than 200 years ago, the U.S. service academies have educated and trained the best and the brightest to lead and command the Armed Forces in service to the nation.  The young Americans who want to serve our country and win places at the service academies are remarkable for their accomplishments and leadership.  A rigorous selection process ensures that candidates for officers' training arrive with superior scholastic, athletic and leadership skills that will help preserve freedom and secure our American way of life for generations to come.

 

Admissions are highly competitive to the Military Academy in West Point, NY; the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD; the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO; the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT; and the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.  Applicants to all of these service academies except the Coast Guard require a nomination to the school, and those can be made by U.S. senators, representatives, the President and the Vice President.  Coast Guard applicants compete without by-state quotas.

 

Q:        How does your nomination process work?

A:         As a U.S. senator representing Iowa, I select ten Iowa students to nominate for each vacancy at the Military, Naval and Air Force academies, in accordance with the number of vacancies made available each year.  I'm also able to nominate ten Iowans each year to the Merchant Marine Academy.  Appointments to this academy are allocated in proportion to the state's representation in Congress.  Iowa currently has access to four vacancies each year for the Merchant Marine Academy.

 

I encourage students to begin the process of applying for a congressional nomination in the spring of their junior year of high school and to consider applying to all of the service academies.  Applicants also should apply directly to the academy and ask that a pre-candidate file be opened on their behalf.

 

Iowans can take pride in the 57 nominees whom I recommended at the end of last year for consideration of appointments to the U.S. service academies.  Their collective attributes and achievements are an impressive reflection on the state of Iowa.  Already, from this group, a Coralville student has been offered an appointment to West Point and a Boone student has earned a place at the Naval Academy.

 

The Army, Naval and Air Force academies are part of the Department of Defense.  The Merchant Marine Academy is part of the Department of Transportation.  And the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security.  Students at the academies are on active duty in the armed services from the day they enter and are commissioned as officers upon graduation.  Graduates of the Merchant Marine Academy hold Coast Guard licenses for six years and are commissioned into the Navy Reserve.  They also may cross commission into any other branch of the service.

 

Q:        What are the basic criteria?

A:         Candidates should rank in the top half of their high school class in a college preparatory curriculum.  Candidates should have ACT scores of 25-36 in math and science and 22-36 in English.  They should have demonstrated leadership in and outside of school, with outstanding records of extracurricular activities and/or job experience.  Candidates need to have completed the physical requirements described by the academies.  Those seeking my support must be legal residents of Iowa or dependents of members of the military who are Iowa residents.  Applicants must be U.S. citizens, unmarried with no children or legal obligation for a child, and at least age 17 but not older than 23 years.  Go to the link posted in Info for Iowans at http://www.grassley.senate.gov and send a copy of the completed material to:  The Office of Senator Chuck Grassley, 150 1st Avenue NE, Suite 325, Cedar Rapids, Iowa  52401.  Questions can be answered at (319) 363-6832.

 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

Senator Chuck Grassley today said that a draft copy of a report he requested from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's office confirmed the accounts he heard from whistleblowers about the undue pressure placed on Immigration Service Officers to approve immigration benefits.

Here is Grassley's statement.  A copy of Grassley's request to the Inspector General, as well as letters to Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano can be found here.

"Whistleblowers have been complaining for several years that leadership in Washington, D.C. and immediate supervisors were placing inappropriate pressure on immigration adjudicators to simply find a way to approve benefits.  This 'Get to yes' attitude doesn't serve the American people who expect a thorough and complete analysis.  When a quarter of the immigration service officers felt pressure to approve questionable applications, and 90 percent of respondents felt they didn't have sufficient time to complete interviews of those who seek benefits, there are serious and widespread problems that need to be addressed by the department.  This comes down to the safety and security of the American people, which should not be compromised by any means.

"The Inspector General took to heart the concerns he heard from Immigration Service Officers, and he made some serious and thoughtful recommendations.  I'm particularly interested in the implementation of recommendations by the Inspector General to develop standards to permit more time for an adjudicator's review of case files, develop a policy to establish limitations for managers and attorneys when they intervene in the adjudication of specific cases, and issue policy that ends any informal appeals process and the special review of denied cases.  These get at the heart of the whistleblowers' allegations, and would go a long way to changing the 'Get to yes' culture that prevails at the agency."

Friday, January 6, 2012

Senators Press Administration on Ignoring 90 Years of Legal Advice from Justice Department

 

WASHINGTON - Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley is leading Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in questioning the administration's decision to ignore more than 90 years of legal precedent in making four controversial recess appointments while the Senate remained in session.

The members argue that the Justice Department, including the Office of Legal Counsel, has clearly said that a congressional recess must be longer than three days - and perhaps at least as long as ten? in order for a recess appointment to be constitutional.  This position has become the stated position of the executive branch, in cases before the Supreme Court and other legal filings, regarding the required length of time for a recess in order for the President to make a recess appointment.

"The Justice Department and the White House owe it to the American people to provide a clear understanding of the process that transpired and the rationale it used to circumvent the checks and balances promised by the Constitution," Grassley said.  "Overturning 90 years of historical precedent is a major shift in policy that should not be done in a legal opinion made behind closed doors hidden from public scrutiny."

In their letter, the members wrote that they were, "Seeking information about what role, if any, the Department or OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) played in developing, formulating, or advising the White House on the decision to make these recess appointments.  Further, we want to know whether the Department has formally revised or amended past opinions issued by the Department on this matter."

The letter continued to explain that the questions were necessary, "Given the Department's historical position on this issue and the President's unprecedented decision to unilaterally reject the years of Department precedent and Executive Branch practice."

The letter was signed by Senate Judiciary Committee members Grassley, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Here's a copy of the text of the letter.  A signed copy of the letter can be found here.

 

January 6, 2012

Via Electronic Transmission

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20530

 

Dear Attorney General Holder:

On Wednesday, President Obama deviated from over 90 years of precedent established by the Department of Justice (Department), and the Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), by recess appointing four individuals to posts in the Administration, namely Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three members of the National Labor Relations Board, despite the fact that the Senate has not adjourned under the terms of a concurrent resolution passed by Congress.  This action was allegedly based upon legal advice provided to the President by the Office of White House Counsel.  We write today seeking information about what role, if any, the Department or OLC played in developing, formulating, or advising the White House on the decision to make these recess appointments.  Further, we want to know whether the Department has formally revised or amended past opinions issued by the Department on this matter.

 

In 1921, Attorney General Daugherty issued an opinion to the President regarding recess appointments and the length of recess required for the President to make an appointment under Article II Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.  The Attorney General opined that "no one, I venture to say, would for a moment contend that the Senate is not in session when an adjournment [of 2 days] is taken.  Nor do I think an adjournment for 5 or even 10 days can be said to constitute the recess intended by the Constitution."[1] The reasoning of the 1921 opinion was given affirmative recognition in subsequent opinions issued by the Department, including opinions issued in 1960,[2] 1992,[3] and 2001.[4]

 

The Department has also weighed in on the applicable time period for recess appointments in legal filings in federal courts.  In 1993, the Department filed a brief in the federal district court for the District of Columbia arguing, "If the recess here at issue were of three days or less, a closer question would be presented.  The Constitution restricts the Senate's ability to adjourn its session for more than three days without obtaining the consent of the House of Representatives."[5] Additionally, the Department, via the Office of the Solicitor General, argued in a 2004 brief to the Supreme Court, "To this day, official congressional documents define a 'recess' as 'any period of three or more complete days?excluding Sundays?when either the House of Representatives or the Senate is not in session."[6] This exact argument was also filed by the Solicitor General in another case during 2004.[7] Most recently, the Deputy Solicitor General argued before the Supreme Court in 2010 that "the recess appointment power can work in - in a recess.  I think our office has opined the recess has to be longer than 3 days."[8]

 

Taken together, these authorities by the Department clearly indicate the view that a congressional recess must be longer than three days - and perhaps at least as long as ten[9]? in order for a recess appointment to be constitutional.  These various authorities have reached this conclusion for over 90 years and have become the stated position of the Executive Branch, including multiple representations before the Supreme Court, regarding the required length of time for a recess in order for the President to make a recess appointment.

 

Given the Department's historical position on this issue and the President's unprecedented decision to unilaterally reject the years of Department precedent and Executive Branch practice, we ask that you provide responses to the following questions:

 

(1)   Was the Department asked to provide legal advice to the President regarding the decision to issue recess appointments of Cordray, Block, Flynn, and Griffin?  If so, was a formal opinion from the Department prepared?  If so, which office at the Department prepared the advice?  If such advice was prepared, when will it to be made public?

 

(2)   If a formal opinion was prepared, provide a copy of that opinion.

 

(3)   Attorney General Opinions, such as the one offered in 1921, are essentially the forerunner to opinions that today come from the Office of Legal Counsel, providing legal advice to the President and executive branch on questions of law.  Such OLC opinions are accorded, in the words of one former head of OLC, a "superstrong stare decisis presumption."  Was the 1921 Attorney General Opinion withdrawn to make way for this new opinion of law that a recess appointment could be exercised when the Senate is in recess for only three days?

 

(4)   Has the Department formally withdrawn any other prior opinions issued by the Attorney General or OLC regarding the length of time a recess must extend prior to the President making a recess appointment?  If so, which ones were withdrawn or overturned?  Provide the basis for withdrawing or overturning those opinions.

 

(5)   Given this unprecedented maneuver of recess appointments taking place while the Senate stood in recess for only three days, would it be the Department's position that the President could make a recess appointment during the weekend or when the Senate stands in recess from the evening of one weekday to the morning of the next weekday?

 

(6)   In 2010, the Deputy Solicitor General argued before the Supreme Court that "recess has to be longer than 3 days" for the President to use the recess appointment power.  Does the Department continue to support this position?  If not, why not?

 

(7)   In the event that the Department has not withdrawn or overturned any of the prior opinions issued by the Attorney General or OLC, how does the Department reconcile those opinions with the decision of the President to make recess appointments while the Senate remained in Session?  If you believe the positions can be reconciled, provide a legal basis supporting this position.

 

(8)   Do you believe the President's decision to make these recess appointments notwithstanding the absence of an adjournment resolution is constitutional?  Please explain.

 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and for responding no later than January 20, 2011.  We look forward to your detailed response.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

[1] 33 U.S. Op. Atty. Gen. 20, 25 (1921).

2 41 U.S. Op. Atty. Gen. 463, 468 (1960) (stating "I fully agree with the reasoning and with the conclusions reached in that opinion.").

3 16 U.S. Op. Off. Legal Counsel 15, (1992) (concluding that the President could make a recess appointment during an intrasession recess from January 3, 1992, to January 21, 1992).

4 2001 OLC LEXIS 27.

5 Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, at 24-26, Mackie v. Clinton, 827 F.Supp.56 (D.D.C. 1993), vacated as moot, 10 F.3d 13, (D.C. Cir. 1993).

6 Brief for the United States in Opposition, Miller v. United States, No. 04-38 (2004) available at http://www.justice.gov/osg/briefs/2004/0responses/2004-0038.resp.pdf (last visited Jan. 5, 2012) (citing

7 See Brief for the United States in Opposition, Evans v. Stephens, No. 04-828 (2004) available at http://www.justice.gov/osg/briefs/2004/0responses/2004-0828.resp.pdf (last visited Jan 5, 2012).

8 New Process Steel v. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd., No. 08-1457 pg. 50 (March 23, 2010), statement of Deputy Solicitor General Neil Katyal available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/08-1457.pdf (last visited Jan. 5, 2012).

9 It is noteworthy to add that according to the Congressional Research Service, prior to President Obama's recent recess appointments, no president in the past 30 years dating back to President Reagan, had made a recess appointment in a shorter recess than 11 days for an intersession recess and 10 days for an intrasession appointment.  See Henry B. Hogue, Congressional Research Service, Recess Appointments: Frequently Asked Questions, pg. 3, Dec. 12, 2011.

 





[1] 33 U.S. Op. Atty. Gen. 20, 25 (1921).

[2] 41 U.S. Op. Atty. Gen. 463, 468 (1960) (stating "I fully agree with the reasoning and with the conclusions reached in that opinion.").

[3] 16 U.S. Op. Off. Legal Counsel 15, (1992) (concluding that the President could make a recess appointment during an intrasession recess from January 3, 1992, to January 21, 1992).

[4] 2001 OLC LEXIS 27.

[5] Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, at 24-26, Mackie v. Clinton, 827 F.Supp.56 (D.D.C. 1993), vacated as moot, 10 F.3d 13, (D.C. Cir. 1993).

[6] Brief for the United States in Opposition, Miller v. United States, No. 04-38 (2004) available at http://www.justice.gov/osg/briefs/2004/0responses/2004-0038.resp.pdf (last visited Jan. 5, 2012) (citing

[7] See Brief for the United States in Opposition, Evans v. Stephens, No. 04-828 (2004) available at http://www.justice.gov/osg/briefs/2004/0responses/2004-0828.resp.pdf (last visited Jan 5, 2012).

[8] New Process Steel v. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd., No. 08-1457 pg. 50 (March 23, 2010), statement of Deputy Solicitor General Neil Katyal available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/08-1457.pdf (last visited Jan. 5, 2012).

[9] It is noteworthy to add that according to the Congressional Research Service, prior to President Obama's recent recess appointments, no president in the past 30 years dating back to President Reagan, had made a recess appointment in a shorter recess than 11 days for an intersession recess and 10 days for an intrasession appointment.  See Henry B. Hogue, Congressional Research Service, Recess Appointments: Frequently Asked Questions, pg. 3, Dec. 12, 2011.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

 

Senator Chuck Grassley released the following statement after the Justice Department provided additional documents related to the gunwalking scandal that has plagued this administration.  The documents were provided only after being issued a subpoena from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

 

"The documents dumped today by the Justice Department prove that this administration knew that guns were walked in Operation Wide Receiver, yet did nothing about it even as it was happening again in Fast and Furious.  I've said all along that walking guns is wrong, period.  I don't care who did it.  We know that Lanny Breuer knew about guns being walked in Operation Wide Receiver, which is why he needs to do the right thing, hold himself accountable and resign."

 

Here is a copy of Grassley's statement given on the Senate floor outlining his call for Breuer's resignation.

 

***Supporting documents can be found here.***

 

Prepared Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Holding People Accountable for Gunwalking

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

 

I have been investigating ATF's Operation Fast and Furious for almost 11 months now.

It is past time for accountability at the senior levels of the Justice Department.

That accountability needs to start with the head of the Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer.

I believe it is time for him to go, and I'd like to explain why I have come to that conclusion.

The Justice Department denied in a letter to me on February 4, 2011 that ATF had ever walked guns.

Mr. Breuer had been consulted in the drafting of that erroneous letter.

On May 2, 2011, rather than acknowledging the increasingly obvious facts and apologizing for its February letter, the Justice Department reiterated its denial.  Thus, when the Justice Department revealed on October 31 of this year that Breuer had known as far back as April 2010 about gunwalking at ATF, I was astounded.

This was a shocking revelation.

The controversy about gunwalking in Fast and Furious had been escalating steadily for 10 months.

The Justice Department had publicly denied to Congress that ATF would ever walk guns.

Yet, the head of the Criminal Division, Mr. Breuer knew otherwise and said nothing.

He knew that the same Field Division was responsible for walking guns in a 2006-2007 case called Wide Receiver.  But the real shock was how Mr. Breuer had responded within his own Department when that earlier gunwalking was first brought to his attention in April 2010.

He didn't tell the Attorney General.

He didn't tell the Attorney General's Chief of Staff.

He didn't tell the Deputy Attorney General.

He didn't tell the Inspector General.

Instead, he simply told his deputy to meet with ATF leadership and inform them of the gunwalking "so they know the bad stuff that could come out."[1]

Later, his deputy outlined a strategy to "announce the case without highlighting the negative part of the story and risking embarrassing ATF."[2]

For 18 months, the embarrassing truth about ATF gunwalking in Wide Receiver and Breuer's knowledge of it was successfully hidden.

It only came out because of the Congressional investigation into gunwalking in Fast and Furious.

The public outrage over Fast and Furious comes from average Americans who cannot understand why their own government would intentionally allow criminals to illegally buy weapons for trafficking to Mexico.

Next week, it will be one year since Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered by bandits armed with guns as a direct result of this policy of letting guns walk.

The Terry family and all Americans who sympathize with their loss are rightfully outraged and astonished that our own government would do such a thing.

Yet when Mr. Breuer learned of a case where ATF walked guns in a very similar way, all he did was give ATF a "heads up."

There seems to be a vast gulf between what outrages the American people and what outrages Lanny Breuer.  Mr. Breuer showed a complete lack of judgment by failing to object to the gunwalking that he knew about in April 2010.

If Mr. Breuer had reacted to gunwalking in Wide Receiver the way most Americans reacted to gunwalking in Fast and Furious, he would have taken steps to stop it and hold accountable everyone involved.

Fast and Furious might have been stopped in its tracks.

When Mr. Breuer came before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism the day after those revelations, I gave him a chance to explain himself.

I listened to what he had to say.

He told us that he "thought that ... dealing with the leadership of ATF was sufficient and reasonable."

Clearly, it was not sufficient.

Mr. Breuer even admitted as much, saying: "I regret that I did not alert others within the leadership of the Department of Justice to the tactics used in Operation Wide Receiver when they first came to my attention."

He regrets not bringing gunwalking in Wide Receiver to the attention of the Attorney General, but what about bringing it to the attention of Congress?

He didn't even step forward to express his regret until emails that detailed his knowledge were about to be produced under Congressional subpoena.

It is astounding that it took the public controversy over Fast and Furious to help the chief of the Criminal Division realize that walking guns is unacceptable.

He'd had nine months after the February 4 letter to step forward, correct the record, and come clean with the American public.

He'd had 18 months after learning of gunwalking in Wide Reciever to put a stop to it and hold people accountable.

He failed to do so.

So during his testimony, I asked him point blank if he reviewed that February 4 letter before it was sent to me.

His misleading answers to these questions form the basis for my second reason for calling on Mr. Breuer to resign.

He responded that he couldn't say for sure but suggested that he did not review the letter.  He said: "[A]t that time, I was in Mexico dealing with the very real issues that we are all so committed to."

Now, last Friday the Justice Department withdrew their February 4th letter to me because of its "inaccuracies."

The department also turned over documents under subpoena about who participated in the drafting and review of the letter.

So imagine my surprise when I discover from documents provided Friday night that that Mr.  Breuer was far more informed during the drafting of that letter than he admitted before the Judiciary Committee.

In fact, Mr. Breuer got frequent updates on the status of the letter while he was in Mexico.

He was sent versions of the letter four times.

Two versions were emailed to Mr. Breuer on February 4, after he'd returned from Mexico, including the version of the letter that was ultimately sent to me that day.

At that time, he forwarded the letter to his personal email account.

Mr. Breuer's deputy also sent him two drafts of the letter while he was in Mexico, and he also forwarded one of those to his personal email account.

We do not know whether he did that in order to access it on a larger screen than a government-issued Blackberry or whether he engaged in any further discussion about the letter in his non-government email account.

However, we do know that in response to the draft received in Mexico, he wrote to one of the main drafters of the letter, "As usual, great work."

The Justice Department excluded Breuer's compliment about the content of the draft from the set of emails it released to the press on Friday.

That evening, Mr. Breuer submitted answers to written questions.  He wrote:

"I have no recollection of having [seen the letter] and, given that I was on official travel that week and given the scope of my duties as Assistant Attorney General, I think it is exceedingly unlikely that I did so."

So as late as Friday night, Mr. Breuer was still trying to minimize his role in reviewing the letter despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Why would Mr. Breuer say "great work" about a letter he claims not to have read?

It just isn't credible that someone like Mr. Breuer would forget about his involvement in a matter like this.

Mr. Breuer's failure to be candid and forthcoming before this body irreparably harms his credibility.

His complete lack of judgment and failure to deal with gunwalking when he first learned of it in April 2010, was bad enough, but this is the final straw.

Mr. Breuer has lost my confidence in his ability to effectively serve the Justice Department.

If you can't be straight with Congress, you don't need to be running the Criminal Division.

It's time to stop spinning and start taking responsibility.

I have long said that the highest-ranking official who knew about gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious needs to be held accountable.

That standard applies no less to officials who knew about gunwalking in Operation Wide Receiver.

Gunwalking is unacceptable no matter when it occurred.

Documents make clear that Assistant Attorney General Breuer was the highest-ranking official in the Justice Department who knew about gunwalking in Operation Wide Receiver.

He did nothing to correct the problems, alert others to the issue, take responsibility, or even admit what he knew until he was forced to by the evidence.

Therefore, I believe the Attorney General needs to ask for Mr. Breuer's resignation and remove him from office if he refuses.

If Mr. Breuer wants to do the honorable thing, he should resign of his own accord.

Now I'm not someone who flippantly calls for resignations.

I've done oversight for many years, and in all that time, I don't ever remember coming across a government official who so blatantly placed sparing agencies embarrassment over protecting the lives of citizens

He has failed in his job of ensuring that the government operates properly, including that people are held accountable.

Because of that, Mr. Breuer needs to go immediately.

Anything less will show the American people that the Justice Department isn't serious about being honest with Congress in our attempt to get to the bottom of this.

Just last night, the Justice Department sent a letter refusing to provide several Justice Department staff for transcribed interviews.

The letter explicitly goes back on the assurances I received when I consented to proceed with the confirmation of three senior Justice Department officials.

One of my conditions for agreeing to proceed with those nominations was that officials who agreed to voluntary interviews in this investigation would have either a personal lawyer present or a Department lawyer present, but not both.

I personally met with the Attorney General and he had that condition listed on a piece of paper in front of him.

It looked as if he had read it and was familiar with it, yet he never objected to that condition.

Dozens of witness interviews have been conducted under that understanding with no problem.

The only difference now is that instead of ATF witnesses, we are now seeking to interview Justice Department witnesses.

Well, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

There's no reason to change the rules in the middle of the game.

I was relying on the Attorney General and the other officials at the Department to honor their agreement.

Apparently, that's not going to happen.

Fortunately, Chairman Issa has the ability to require the witnesses to appear via subpoena if they refuse to appear voluntarily under the conditions that the Department previously agreed to.

I am confident that he will do that if it becomes necessary.  And, I will take whatever steps I have to take here in the Senate to encourage the Department to reconsider and stick to its original agreement.

 

-30-

WASHINGTON - Starting today and through January 19, Senator Chuck Grassley will meet with Iowans in 36 counties.

Grassley has held at least one meeting in each of Iowa's 99 counties every year since he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980.

The January meetings will take place in Riceville, Charles City, New Hampton, Waverly, Waterloo, Clarion, Dakota City, Algona, Forest City, Garner, Hampton, Mason City, Manly, Osage, Calmar, West Union, Independence, Manchester, Vinton, Gladbrook, Centerville, Albia, Chariton, Corydon, Garden Grove, Mt. Ayr, Creston, Osceola, Winterset, Greenfield, Panora, Grimes, Grand Junction, Boone, Ames, and Le Grand.

"I look forward to these meetings to hear directly from Iowans and to have the kind of dialogue that's so important to the process of representative government.  I like to say this process is a two-way street.  I need to go to people to answer questions and listen to comments, and they need to come out and participate in the discussion," Grassley said.

In addition to regular, face-to-face meetings in Iowa and with Iowans in Washington when the Senate is in session, Grassley responds to every letter, email and phone call from Iowans.  He also communicates via Facebook, Twitter and at http://grassley.senate.gov.  Grassley is a regular guest on public affairs broadcasts statewide where he responds to questions.

Below is more information about this month's meetings.  The town meetings are open to the public.  Local hosts should be contacted regarding other meetings.  Grassley will be available for interviews with local reporters for 15 minutes after every meeting.*

 

Thursday, January 5

7-8 a.m.

Speak to the Riceville Kiwanis Club

Windy Tree Cafe

101 East Main Street in Riceville

 

9:15-10:15 a.m.

Tour School and Q&A with 5th and 6th Grade Students

Immaculate Conception Elementary School

1203 Clark Street in Charles City

 

10:45-11:15 a.m.

Floyd County Farm Bureau Coffee

North Iowa Area Community College Center, Room 110

200 Harwood Drive in Charles City

 

12-1 p.m.

Chickasaw County Town Meeting

Chickasaw Wellness Complex, Multipurpose Room

1050 West Hamilton Street in New Hampton

 

2:15-3:15 p.m.

Bremer County Town Meeting

Wartburg College, Whitehouse Business Center 214

100 Wartburg Boulevard in Waverly


Friday, January 6

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Tour Facility and Q&A with Employees

Engineered Products

2940 Airport Boulevard in Waterloo

 

Tuesday, January 10

8:30-9:15 a.m.

Q&A with U.S. History II Students

Clarion Goldfield High School

1111 Willow Drive in Clarion

*Grassley's media availability in Clarion will be at 8:15 a.m., in advance of the event, rather than immediately following.

 

10-11 a.m.

Humboldt County Town Meeting

VFW Post

412 Main Street in Dakota City

 

12:45-1:45 p.m.

Kossuth County Town Meeting

County Courthouse, Assembly Room

114 West State Street in Algona

 

3:15-4:15 p.m.

Winnebago County Town Meeting

Waldorf College, Salveson Ballroom

1006 South 6th Street in Forest City

 

5:15-6:15 p.m.

Hancock County Town Meeting

Garner Education Center

325 West 8th Street in Garner

 

Wednesday, January 11

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Franklin County Town Meeting

Center 1 Chamber, Large Room

5 1st Street SW in Hampton

 

9:45-10:45 a.m.

Q&A with Students

Newman Catholic High School

2445 19th Street SW in Mason City

 

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Worth County Town Meeting

Manly City Hall

106 South Broadway in Manly

 

1:30-2:30 p.m.

Mitchell County Town Meeting

Krapek Family Fine Arts Center, Cedar River Complex

809 Sawyer Drive in Osage

 

4:45-5:45 p.m.

Winneshiek County Town Meeting

Calmar Public Library, Community Room

101 South Washington Street in Calmar


Thursday, January 12

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Tour Facility and Q&A with Employees

Art's Way Manufacturing

706 Highway 150 South in West Union

 

10-11 a.m.

Buchanan County Town Meeting

County Courthouse, Assembly Room

210 5th Avenue NE in Independence

 

12-1 p.m.

Delaware County Town Meeting

Manchester Public Library

304 North Franklin in Manchester

 

2:45-3:45 p.m.

Benton County Town Meeting

City Hall, City Council Chambers

110 West 3rd Street in Vinton

 

5-6 p.m.

Tama County Town Meeting

American Legion

Corner of Johnston and Front streets in Gladbrook

 

Monday, January 16

5-6 p.m.

Appanoose County Weekly Meal at Faith United Methodist Church, Q&A with Attendees

23851 Highway 5 South in Centerville 

 

Tuesday, January 17

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Monroe County Town Meeting

Albia Area Chamber of Commerce

18 South Main Street in Albia

 

10:15-11:15 a.m.

Lucas County Town Meeting

Carpenter Hall

1215 Court Street in Chariton

 

12-1 p.m.

Wayne County Town Meeting

Wayne County Courthouse

100 North Lafayette in Corydon

 

2-3 p.m.

Speak to Government Class

Mormon Trail Jr./Sr. High School

502 East Main Street in Garden Grove

 

4:30-5:30 p.m.

Ringgold County Town Meeting

Jamie's Coffee Mill & Deli

118 West Adams Street in Mt. Ayr

 

Wednesday, January 18

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Union County Town Meeting

City Hall/Restored Depot, City Council Chambers

116 West Adams Street in Creston

 

9:45-10:45 a.m.

Q&A with Students

Clarke County High School

800 North Jackson in Osceola

 

12-1 p.m.

Madison County Town Meeting

Winterset Public Library, Meeting Room

123 North 2nd Street in Winterset

 

2-3 p.m.

Adair County Town Meeting

Andrews Memorial Adair County Health & Fitness Center, Meeting Room

202 North Townline Road in Greenfield

 

4:15-5:15 p.m.

Guthrie County Town Meeting

Panora Community Center

115 West Main Street in Panora

 

Thursday, January 19

8-9 a.m.

Q&A with Students

Dallas Center-Grimes Middle School

1400 Vine Street in Grimes

 

10:30-11:30 a.m.

Greene County Town Meeting

Grand Junction Community Center

212 Main Street in Grand Junction

 

12:30-1:30 p.m.

Boone County Town Meeting

Boone County Historical Center

602 Story Street in Boone

 

2:30-3:30 p.m.

Tour Facility and Q&A with Employees

Becker Underwood

801 Dayton Avenue in Ames

 

5-6 p.m.

Marshall County Town Meeting

Le Grand Area Community Center

206 North Vine Street in Le Grand

 

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Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Ranking Member of the Committee on the Judiciary, today made the following comment on President Obama's appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

"The President is upending years of Senate practice and legal precedent with this move. He's interpreting advice and consent as bypass and appoint.  It's an affront to constitutional checks and balances.  It's also an affront to the principle that every agency should have accountability, which the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lacks.  The President is ignoring the longstanding advice of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which has found that an adjournment of '5 or even 10 days' would not be sufficient for a recess appointment.  I'm planning to write to the Attorney General to ask if the President asked for a new Justice Department opinion prior to making this appointment and whether the Attorney General agrees with it.  Regardless, the President needs to make clear why there was a change in position and what rationale the White House counsel used to overturn more than 90 years of Justice Department precedent.  The White House should make the rationale public.  The public's business ought to be public.  And the President promised to run the most transparent administration in history."

with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

 

Q:        When will the public have access to information about payments made by drug and device makers to doctors?

A:        The public is a step closer to learning just how much money and travel expenses pharmaceutical company and medical device makers give to doctors.  This month, a federal agency finally put out proposed guidance for the companies that will have to disclose the payments under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which I co-authored and saw through to enactment last year.  If implemented as designed, the sunshine law will require a drug company to disclose whether it pays a doctor to attend a conference in Hawaii.  A medical device maker will have to list whether it keeps a doctor on paid retainer for medical advice.  Fees paid for consulting, speeches and expert advice will be reported.  In 2013, the public will have access to this information through a user friendly website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  This fall, the federal agency responsible for launching the program missed a key deadline for putting out the Sunshine Act guidance.  Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and I pressed the agency to explain the delay and encouraged it to move forward.  The day before an agency witness was supposed to testify on the issue at a Senate hearing, the agency issued the guidance.  So riding herd worked.

 

Q:        Why did you push for a disclosure requirement?

A:        For a number of years, I've been digging into pharmaceutical and medical device industry payments to continuing medical education, taxpayer-funded medical research, medical schools, medical journals, and advocacy organizations.  Among research doctors, my oversight work found a number of cases where highly influential research doctors were receiving payments vastly greater than what had been reported by them or understood by their prestigious universities.  Discrepancies ran as high as millions and tens of millions of dollars.  In direct response to this exposure, the National Institutes of Health, which distributes $32 billion a year in federal research dollars, proposed new disclosure guidelines for federal grant recipients.  I'm still working to see this agency act more aggressively in this area as a steward of tax dollars.  Separately, a number of drug companies began disclosing financial relationships voluntarily.  More than 40 universities nationwide took up revisions of their disclosure policies.  My oversight work also built the case for enactment last year of the reform bill - the Sunshine Act -- that Senator Kohl and I had been promoting since 2007.

 

Q:        What do you hope to accomplish?

A:        The well-regarded Institute of Medicine issued a report in 2009 endorsing transparency and stating that protections against conflicts can be established without inhibiting productive relationships between medicine and industry to improve medical knowledge and care.  My argument has been that the transparency of these financial relationships is appropriate so that patients and their doctors can be informed and because taxpayers pay billions of dollars each year for prescription drugs and medical devices under Medicare and Medicaid.  The goal is to let the sun shine in and make information available to foster accountability.

 

Friday, December 23, 2011

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley will meet with Iowans in 36 counties in January, including 25 town meetings.

Grassley has held at least one meeting in each of Iowa's 99 counties every year since he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980.

The January 2012 meetings will take place in Riceville, Charles City, New Hampton, Waverly, Waterloo, Clarion, Dakota City, Algona, Forest City, Garner, Hampton, Mason City, Manly, Osage, Calmar, West Union, Independence, Manchester, Vinton, Gladbrook, Centerville, Albia, Chariton, Corydon, Garden Grove, Mt. Ayr, Creston, Osceola, Winterset, Greenfield, Panora, Grimes, Grand Junction, Boone, Ames, Le Grand.

"I look forward to these meetings to hear directly from Iowans and to have the kind of dialogue that's so important to the process of representative government.  I like to say this process is a two-way street.  I need to go to people to answer questions and listen to comments, and they need to come out and participate in the discussion," Grassley said.

In addition to regular, face-to-face meetings in Iowa and with Iowans in Washington when the Senate is in session, Grassley responds to every letter, email and phone call from Iowans.  He also communicates via Facebook, Twitter and at http://grassley.senate.gov.  Grassley is a regular guest on public affairs broadcasts statewide where he responds to questions.

Below is more information about his January meetings.  The town meetings are open to the public.  Local hosts should be contacted regarding other meetings.  Grassley will be available for interviews with local reporters for 15 minutes after every meeting.*

Thursday, January 5

7-8 a.m.

Speak to the Riceville Kiwanis Club

Windy Tree Cafe

101 East Main Street in Riceville

 

9:15-10:15 a.m.

Tour School and Q&A with 5th and 6th Grade Students

Immaculate Conception Elementary School

1203 Clark Street in Charles City

 

10:45-11:15 a.m.

Floyd County Farm Bureau Coffee

North Iowa Area Community College Center, Room 110

200 Harwood Drive in Charles City

 

12-1 p.m.

Chickasaw County Town Meeting

Chickasaw Wellness Complex, Multipurpose Room

1050 West Hamilton Street in New Hampton

 

2:15-3:15 p.m.

Bremer County Town Meeting

Wartburg College, Whitehouse Business Center 214

100 Wartburg Boulevard in Waverly

 

Friday, January 6

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Tour Facility and Q&A with Employees

Engineered Products

2940 Airport Boulevard in Waterloo

 

Tuesday, January 10

8:30-9:15 a.m.

Q&A with U.S. History II Students

Clarion Goldfield High School

1111 Willow Drive in Clarion

*Grassley's media availability in Clarion will be at 8:15 a.m., in advance of the event, rather than immediately following.

 

10-11 a.m.

Humboldt County Town Meeting

VFW Post

412 Main Street in Dakota City

 

12:45-1:45 p.m.

Kossuth County Town Meeting

County Courthouse, Assembly Room

114 West State Street in Algona

 

3:15-4:15 p.m.

Winnebago County Town Meeting

Waldorf College, Salveson Ballroom

1006 South 6th Street in Forest City

 

5:15-6:15 p.m.

Hancock County Town Meeting

Garner Education Center

325 West 8th Street in Garner

 

Wednesday, January 11

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Franklin County Town Meeting

Center 1 Chamber, Large Room

5 1st Street SW in Hampton

 

9:45-10:45 a.m.

Q&A with Students

Newman Catholic High School

2445 19th Street SW in Mason City

 

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Worth County Town Meeting

Manly City Hall

106 South Broadway in Manly

 

1:30-2:30 p.m.

Mitchell County Town Meeting

Krapek Family Fine Arts Center, Cedar River Complex

809 Sawyer Drive in Osage

 

4:45-5:45 p.m.

Winneshiek County Town Meeting

Calmar Public Library, Community Room

101 South Washington Street in Calmar


Thursday, January 12

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Tour Facility and Q&A with Employees

Art's Way Manufacturing

706 Highway 150 South in West Union

 

10-11 a.m.

Buchanan County Town Meeting

County Courthouse, Assembly Room

210 5th Avenue NE in Independence

 

12-1 p.m.

Delaware County Town Meeting

Manchester Public Library

304 North Franklin in Manchester

 

2:45-3:45 p.m.

Benton County Town Meeting

City Hall, City Council Chambers

110 West 3rd Street in Vinton

 

5-6 p.m.

Tama County Town Meeting

American Legion

Corner of Johnston and Front streets in Gladbrook

 

Monday, January 16

5-6 p.m.

Appanoose County Weekly Meal at Faith United Methodist Church, Q&A with Attendees

23851 Highway 5 South in Centerville 

 

Tuesday, January 17

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Monroe County Town Meeting

Albia Area Chamber of Commerce

18 South Main Street in Albia

 

10:15-11:15 a.m.

Lucas County Town Meeting

Carpenter Hall

1215 Court Street in Chariton

 

12-1 p.m.

Wayne County Town Meeting

Wayne County Courthouse

100 North Lafayette in Corydon

 

2-3 p.m.

Speak to Government Class

Mormon Trail Jr./Sr. High School

502 East Main Street in Garden Grove

 

4:30-5:30 p.m.

Ringgold County Town Meeting

Jamie's Coffee Mill & Deli

118 West Adams Street in Mt. Ayr

 

Wednesday, January 18

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Union County Town Meeting

City Hall/Restored Depot, City Council Chambers

116 West Adams Street in Creston

 

9:45-10:45 a.m.

Q&A with Students

Clarke County High School

800 North Jackson in Osceola

 

12-1 p.m.

Madison County Town Meeting

Winterset Public Library, Meeting Room

123 North 2nd Street in Winterset

 

2-3 p.m.

Adair County Town Meeting

Andrews Memorial Adair County Health & Fitness Center, Meeting Room

202 North Townline Road in Greenfield

 

4:15-5:15 p.m.

Guthrie County Town Meeting

Panora Community Center

115 West Main Street in Panora

 

Thursday, January 19

8-9 a.m.

Q&A with Students

Dallas Center-Grimes Middle School

1400 Vine Street in Grimes

 

10:30-11:30 a.m.

Greene County Town Meeting

Grand Junction Community Center

212 Main Street in Grand Junction

 

12:30-1:30 p.m.

Boone County Town Meeting

Boone County Historical Center

602 Story Street in Boone

 

2:30-3:30 p.m.

Tour Facility and Q&A with Employees

Becker Underwood

801 Dayton Avenue in Ames

 

5-6 p.m.

Marshall County Town Meeting

Le Grand Area Community Center

206 North Vine Street in Le Grand

 

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