Charles Grassley

September 12, 2019 – Grassley and Johnson ask State OIG why he failed to issue report on his investigation into the meeting between Steele and State Dept officials, before the Carter Page FISA application

“U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to U.S. Department of State Inspector General Steve Linick today seeking an explanation as to why his office did not issue a report on its investigation into the October 2016 meeting between Christopher Steele and Orbis Intelligence employee Tatyana Duran, then-Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec, and then-Special Envoy Jonathan Winer. The senators also seek to understand why the state department OIG did not interview all parties present at that October 2016 meeting.

“We write seeking to understand why the OIG did not issue a report on its investigation and did not interview employees who most likely have relevant information regarding the subject matter of the inquiry,” the senators wrote.

The senators asked the state department OIG about its failure to interview Mr. Winer in light of him introducing Mr. Steele to high-ranking state department officials with direct access to their counterparts at the FBI days before the FBI sought a FISA order to surveil a Trump campaign official.

The senators also learned the state department OIG discovered at least one department official, Mr. Winer, utilized non-official email accounts to conduct official department business, and they have requested an explanation as to why the OIG did not interview Mr. Winer about his use of personal email when he directed others to upload those emails to classified systems within the department.  In addition, the senators learned that the state department OIG determined a department employee may have engaged in anti-Trump political conduct, in violation of the Hatch Act, and the OIG referred that individual to the Office of Special Counsel for Investigation. That Hatch Act investigation is ongoing.

The Office of Special Counsel is the permanent, independent investigative agency for personnel matters in the federal government and is not related to Robert Mueller’s temporary prosecutorial office within the justice department.

The full text of the letter can be viewed here.

Sens. Johnson and Grassley’s May 9, 2019, letters to the state department and the FBI can be viewed here.

(GrassleySenate.gov, 9/12/2019)

September 12, 2019 – State Dept official Jonathan Winer used a personal email account to hide his communications with Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson

Senators Ron Johnson and Charles Grassley have a few questions that are put in a letter dated September 12, 2019, to State Department OIG Steve Linick who reviewed a meeting between State Dept officials and Christopher Steele. The review or lack thereof appears to have left them with more questions than answers. Here is a clipping of the relevant part of their letter:

(Grassley/Johnson/Linick Letter, 9/12/2019)

August 14, 2019 – Grassley/Johnson report suggests a mole with Clinton ties was suspected of leaking from IC IG team during email probe

The Intelligence Community Inspector General — whose office performed some of the most important work on the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server — suspected someone on his team was leaking information, Senate testimony shows. His counsel was tied to the Clintons.

The suspected mole is now working for the Trump administration in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), according to the testimony.

After returning from the State Department, an ICIG investigator noticed a Jeep that began tailing him and his colleagues and even rummaging through recycling, according to testimony in a Senate report by GOP Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa released Wednesday.

ICIG Charles McCullough, an Obama nominee, said he was eventually pushed out of federal service under pressure from California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and others.

Rev. Wogaman with Bill and Hillary Clinton after services. (Credit: public domain)

An investigator for the ICIG, Frank Rucker, told Senate investigators the office suspected their ICIG colleague Paul Wogaman, the son of the Bill and Hillary Clinton’s longtime pastor and adviser, was leaking.

He is the son of Rev. J. Philip Wogaman, who during the Clinton presidency, was pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church, which the Clintons attended.

(…) On Feb. 9, 2016, Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall wrote to Cheryl Mills, another top aide and lawyer: “Just talked to [redacted] — about our favorite son. He’s meeting with OSC today, which is good and a step in the right direction, but nothing yet public. [Redacted] said she’d heard — but second/third hand (and not from son) that IC IG was handing out anti-HRC clips to journalists. Have we gotten any inkling of that happening? I certainly haven’t, and it seems weird.”

A John Podesta email about mole in IC IG / Grassley report.

Mills forwarded the email to John Podesta, Brian Fallon and other Clinton aides.

The Senate report says Rucker told them Wogaman was “the only male employee on leave the following day when a meeting with [redacted] was supposed to take place according to the email. Therefore, he said, it was believed that Mr. Wogerman [sic] was leaking to [redacted].”

“He said that Mr. McCullough made a decision not to confront Mr. Wogerman [sic],” it continued. Mr. Rucker said that he does not believe that ICIG ever did an official assessment on whether Mr. Wogerman [sic] leaked classified information.”

“He said that Mr. Wogerman [sic] pushed very hard to be included on the investigation, but he was NOT part of it. He said that Mr. Wogerman [sic] now works at ODNI in the mission integration department. Mr. Rucker said that to his knowledge, nobody ever confronted Mr. Wogerman [sic] about it. He said that they all signed non-disclosure agreements or NDA’s regarding their work at ICIG.”

(…) Wogaman now works for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in the Trump administration, according to the report.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 8/14/2019)

August 14, 2019 – A Grassley/Graham/Johnson memo suggests the FBI failed to seek access to certain highly classified information potentially relevant to the Clinton email investigation

From left to right, Senators Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson (Credit: public domain)

(…) “Thanks to the relentless investigative work of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), we are learning that the Hillary Clinton email case may not really be settled.

A staff memo updating the two senators’ long-running probe discloses that the FBI — the version run in 2016 by the now-disgraced and fired James ComeyAndrew McCabe and Peter Strzok — failed to pursue access to “highly classified” evidence that could have resolved important questions.

The failure to look at the evidence back in 2016 occurred even though the agents believed access to the sensitive evidence was “necessary” to complete the investigation into Clinton’s improper transmission of classified emails — some top-secret — on her unsecure private email server, the memos show.

To make matters worse, the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) has known about that decision since at least 2018, thanks to the work of the DOJ’s internal watchdog, Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz, who provided DOJ leaders and Congress with a classified appendix explaining what happened.

But Johnson and Grassley have been unable to get answers for a year, even from Attorney General William Barr, about whether the FBI intends to look at the critical evidence it skipped back in 2016.

The Senate staff memo succinctly lays out just how egregious the FBI’s decision was in 2016.

The inspector general’s “appendix raised a number of serious questions because, as explained on page 154 of the unclassified DOJ IG report, the FBI decided not to seek access to certain highly classified information potentially relevant to the investigation despite members of the FBI case team referring to the review as a ‘necessary’ part of the investigation,” the Senate staff wrote.

“As a result of the findings in that appendix, Senator Grassley wrote a classified letter to DOJ on October 17, 2018, which remains unanswered. On January 15, 2019, at Mr. Barr’s nomination hearing, Senator Grassley asked Mr. Barr if he would answer the letter, if confirmed, to which he attested, ‘Yes, Senator.’ On April 16, 2019, Senators Grassley, Johnson, and Graham sent a letter to Attorney General Barr reiterating the need for a written response to that letter.”

The DOJ’s silence on the road that the FBI willfully chose not to take is all the more deafening given what we already know about the Clinton email case.” (Read more: The Hill, 8/22/2019)

June 17, 2019 – The State Department identifies 23 violations, ‘multiple security incidents’ concerning Clinton emails

(Credit: Fox News)

“The State Department revealed Monday that it has identified “multiple security incidents” involving current or former employees’ handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails, and that 23 “violations” and seven “infractions” have been issued as part of the department’s ongoing investigation.

The information came in a letter to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is responsible for overseeing the security review.

“To this point, the Department has assessed culpability to 15 individuals, some of whom were culpable in multiple security incidents,” Mary Elizabeth Taylor, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, wrote to Grassley. “DS has issued 23 violations and 7 infractions incidents. … This number will likely change as the review progresses.”

The State Department, calling the matter “serious,” said it expected to conclude the investigation by Sept. 1. The department acknowledged that the probe was unusually time-consuming.

(…) “In every instance in which the Department found an individual to be culpable of a valid security violation or three or more infractions, the Department forwarded the outcome to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Personnel Security and Suitability (DS/PSS), to be placed in the individuals’ official security file,” Taylor wrote. “All valid security incidents are reviewed by DS and taken into account every time an individual’s eligibility for access to classified information is considered.

“This referral occurred whether or not the individual was currently employed with the Department of State and such security files are kept indefinitely,” Taylor added. “Consistent with the referral policy, for individuals who were still employed with the Department at the time of adjudication, the Department referred all valid security violations or multiple infractions to the Bureau of Human Resources.”

The State Department declined to release the names of the employees, consistent with its procedures. The department promised another update once its review is completed.” (Read more: Fox News, 6/17/2019)

April 16, 2019 – Senators Grassley, Graham and Johnson ask AG Barr for a classified appendix to Horowitz’s previous report re various actions by the FBI and DOJ during the Clinton email investigation

From left to right, Senators Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson (Credit: public domain)

“Three Senate committee chairmen are calling on the Justice Department to provide previously-sought information related to the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email server investigation. DOJ initially refused to furnish the information, citing the ongoing special counsel investigation. Following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson are renewing the request.

“Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has concluded, we are unaware of any legitimate basis upon which the Department can refuse to answer the Judiciary Committee’s inquiries,” the senators wrote in an unclassified cover letter to Attorney General William Barr.

The chairmen’s request stems from a classified annex to a DOJ Inspector General report on the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business and mishandling of classified information. The unclassified portion of the report describes an FBI effort to review highly-classified material that was potentially relevant to its ongoing server investigation codenamed Midyear Exam. In May of 2016, around the same time then-FBI Director James Comey was drafting a statement exonerating Clinton, the FBI’s Midyear team wrote a memo seeking DOJ permission to review highly-classified information “necessary to complete the investigation,” according to the unclassified IG report. However, the memo was never sent to DOJ and the Midyear investigation was closed shortly thereafter. The classified annex includes additional detail about the information in question, its potential relevance to the Midyear investigation and the FBI’s justification for failing to review it.

In July of 2018, the Judiciary Committee requested a DOJ briefing to discuss questions raised by the classified annex, and followed up with a classified letter in October. However DOJ initially declined to provide the information, citing the ongoing special counsel investigation into matters related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now that the special counsel’s investigation has concluded, the chairmen are renewing their request for details on the FBI’s decision not to seek potentially-relevant information during the Midyear investigation.

Today the chairmen resubmitted the October 2018 classified letter to Attorney General Barr regarding the IG classified annex.  An unclassified cover letter accompanying the request follows:

April 16, 2019
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable William Barr
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Barr:
On October 17, 2018, the Judiciary Committee sent a classified letter to the Justice Department regarding the Inspector General’s classified appendix to its report titled, “A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election.”  As noted on page 154 of Chapter 5 of the Inspector General’s unclassified report, the classified appendix raises significant issues associated with the FBI’s failure to review certain highly classified information in support of its Midyear investigation.[1]  In particular, the Inspector General noted that it learned that the FBI acquired classified material that “may have included information potentially relevant to the Midyear investigation.”  The FBI even drafted a memorandum in May of 2016 stating that access to the information was “necessary to complete the investigation.”  However, that memorandum was never completed.  During the Inspector General’s investigation, when FBI witnesses were interviewed by the Inspector General, they took the position that the information would not materially impact the conclusion.  That explanation is inconsistent with the memorandum’s self-identified purpose and demands clarification.
Furthermore, on July 31, 2018, the Judiciary Committee requested a briefing on the steps the Department has taken, or plans to take, in light of the report’s findings.  In a subsequent phone call with Department personnel on September 17, 2018, the Department declined to brief the Judiciary Committee, asserting without any clear basis, that it would interfere with Special Counsel Mueller’s equities.  Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has concluded, we are unaware of any legitimate basis upon which the Department can refuse to answer the Judiciary Committee’s inquiries.
Accordingly, we are reissuing the attached classified letter regarding the important questions raised by the appendix and reiterating our request for a classified briefing on the subject.  Please respond to these questions no later than April 26, 2019.  Should you have questions, please have your staff contact Zachary Somers of Chairman Graham’s staff at 202-224-5225, Joshua Flynn-Brown of Chairman Grassley’s staff at 202-224-4515, or Joseph Folio of Chairman Johnson’s staff at 202-224-4751.[2]
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Sincerely,
Lindsey O. Graham
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
Charles E. Grassley
Chairman
Committee on Finance
Ron Johnson
Chairman
Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs
cc:
   The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
   The Honorable Gary C. Peters
   The Honorable Ron Wyden
-30-

[1] Unclassified Inspector General Report, p. 154.  “In addition, as we describe in the classified appendix to this report, the OIG learned near the end of our review that the FBI had considered obtaining permission from the Department to review certain classified materials that may have included information potentially relevant to the Midyear investigation.  Although the Midyear team drafted a memorandum to the Deputy Attorney General in late May 2016 stating that review of the highly classified materials was necessary to complete the investigation and requesting permission to access them, the FBI never sent this request to the Department.  FBI witnesses told us that they did not seek access to these classified materials for various reasons, including that they believed this information would not materially impact the conclusion.  The classified appendix describes in more detail the highly classified information, its potential relevance to the Midyear investigation, the FBI’s reasons for not seeking access to it, and our analysis.”
[2] Chairman Johnson joins these requests as a continuation of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s oversight of these issues.  See S. Rule XXV(k); S. Res. 445, 108th Cong. (2004); S. Res. 70, 116th Cong. § 12(e)(1)(A) ( 2019).

(Grassley/Senate, 4/16/2019)

January 2, 2019 – The exculpatory Russia evidence about Mike Flynn that US intel kept secret

Lt. General Michael Flynn (Credit: Olivier Doullery/Abaca Press)

“For nearly two years now, the intelligence community has kept secret evidence in the Russia collusion case that directly undercuts the portrayal of retired Army general and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn as a Russian stooge.

(…) Yes, the Pentagon did give a classified briefing to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in May 2017, but then it declined the senator’s impassioned plea three months later to make some of that briefing information public.

“It appears the public release of this information would not pose any ongoing risk to national security. Moreover, the declassification would be in the public interest, and is in the interest of fairness to Lt. Gen. Flynn,” Grassley wrote in August 2017.

Were the information Grassley requested made public, America would have learned this, according to my sources:

    • Before Flynn made his infamous December 2015 trip to Moscow — as a retired general and then-adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — he alerted his former employer, the DIA.
    • He then attended a “defensive” or “protective” briefing before he ever sat alongside Vladimir Putin at the Russia Today (RT) dinner, or before he talked with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
    • The briefing educated and sensitized Flynn to possible efforts by his Russian host to compromise the former high-ranking defense official and prepared him for conversations in which he could potentially extract intelligence for U.S. agencies such as the DIA.
    • When Flynn returned from Moscow, he spent time briefing intelligence officials on what he learned during the Moscow contacts. Between two and nine intelligence officials attended the various meetings with Flynn about the RT event, and the information was moderately useful, about what one would expect from a public event, according to my sources.

(Read more: The Hill, 1/02/2019)

December 3, 2018 – Grassley accuses Fusion GPS founder, Glenn Simpson, of giving ‘extremely misleading’ testimony

Glenn Simpson (l) and Chuck Grassley (Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press)

“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is drawing parallels between the false testimony that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen gave to Congress in 2017 and the “extremely misleading” statements made by the founder of the firm that commissioned the infamous Steele dossier.

“I hope that the Justice Department is handling all these instances of false statements to Congress with the same level of seriousness they treated Mr. Cohen’s,” Grassley, an Iowa Republican, wrote Monday in a letter to Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Cohen pleaded guilty on Nov. 29 in the special counsel’s investigation to lying to Congress in 2017 about the extent of his attempts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen admitted he lied about how long he worked on the project, which was ultimately scuttled in June 2016.

Grassley accused Glenn Simpson, a co-founder of Fusion GPS, of possibly lying during his Aug. 22, 2017 testimony when he claimed that his firm was not working for a client to investigate President Donald Trump after the 2016 election.

“So you didn’t do any work on the Trump matter after the election date, that was the end of your work?” Simpson was asked in his deposition.

“I had no client after the election,” said Simpson.

“As we now know, that was extremely misleading, if not an outright lie,” Grassley asserted in his letter to Blumenthal.

Grassley noted that a former Senate staffer named Daniel Jones told the FBI in March 2017 that he hired Fusion GPS and former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, after the election to continue an investigation into Trump’s possible ties to Russia. (Read more: Daily Caller, 12/04/2018)

August 30, 2018 – The State Department revokes Hillary Clinton’s security clearance at her request

Hillary Clinton (Credit: The Associated Press)

“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security clearance has been revoked at her request, the State Department told lawmakers, according to a letter made public Friday.

Clinton’s clearance was withdrawn on Aug. 30, according to a letter from the State Department to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), which he released.

Five others associated with Clinton, including longtime aide Cheryl Mills, also had their clearances revoked on Sept. 20, according to the letter. The aides were known as “research assistants,” which allowed them to keep their clearances after their time at the department concluded.

The move comes almost a year after Grassley asked the department to investigate and review whether Clinton’s aides still had security clearance.” (Read more: Politico, 10/12/2018)

June 26, 2018 – Grassley Bill to better protect federal whistleblowers becomes law

Chuck Grassley (Credit: Getty Images)

“A bipartisan proposal to empower and protect whistleblowers across the federal bureaucracy was signed into law yesterday. The Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act permanently extends a program requiring each inspector general office to designate an official focused on whistleblower protection issues. The law was introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

“It’s not always easy to figure out how to disclose waste, fraud or abuse in government when there are so many different rules governing different agencies. Empowering coordinators across the federal government will give whistleblowers a clear, confidential resource to make sure they are informed and equipped to lawfully carry out their patriotic duty to shine a light on inefficiencies or misconduct in government,” Grassley said. “This law represents an important step for keeping faith with the American people, but there is always more to do to protect whistleblowers.”

The Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act permanently extends the program requiring a dedicated official in each inspector general office focused on whistleblower protection issues. The bill changes the title of these officials from ombudsman to “Whistleblower Protection Coordinator” so that potential whistleblowers better understand the role of this position, and it authorizes them to more actively promote whistleblowing to employees in their agency. Under this new bill, the coordinators will be tasked with assisting inspectors general in productive communications with other stakeholders, like the Office of Special Counsel and congress. They will also be able to better help the inspectors general strengthen their own roles in investigating reprisal and whistleblower disclosures. The legislation also requires additional reporting to congress on actual steps taken to hold accountable those who retaliate against whistleblowers. (Senate Judiciary Committee, 6/26/2018)