Why would they do this? Don’t we have a new head of the Department of Justice, now?
Senate investigators have been repeatedly seen their requests for interviews with top FBI officials blocked, as they attempt to move forward with the investigations on the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, as well as Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have repeatedly requested that the two senior bureau officials, Carl Ghattas and James Rybicki, appear for a transcribed interview.
They’ve offered to limit their questioning to only what happened before Comey was fired, but the answer has remained “no.”
The reason being cited is the ongoing special investigation, led by Robert Mueller. The DOJ have expressed that they don’t want to interfere with whatever may be going on there.
“As a threshold matter, the scope of the Committee’s inquiry has not been de-conflicted with Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a Monday letter to the committee declining the request.
“Therefore, in order to protect the integrity of the Special Counsel’s investigation, as we have previously indicated, we will not be able to provide Mr. Ghattas or Mr. Rybicki for interviews at this time.”
Ok. I suppose that makes sense, and it gives us some idea as to how involved Mueller is taking the ongoing investigation.
But what does any of that have to do with the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails?
The Judiciary Committee is investigating improper political interference in FBI investigations, including the investigation into the former secretary of State’s email server and the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Rybicki is Comey’s former chief of staff. Ghattas is the head of the FBI’s national security division and is in charge of leading the FBI’s operations and intelligence efforts.
“Consistent with the Department’s long-standing policy regarding the confidentiality and sensitivity of information relating to pending matters, the Department cannot make Mr. Ghattas nor Mr. Rybicki available for transcribed interviews at this time,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Samuel Ramer said in the July letter to the committee.
And that’s all well and good, but a recent revelation that James Comey had already drafted a statement to clear Clinton of all charges against her brought a new sense of urgency to the need to talk to top FBI officials.
In fact, it is thought to be Rybicki who first revealed that Comey had drafted a statement.
Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently made public portions of a redacted transcript of an interview with two FBI officials done by the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative agency tasked with protecting federal employees from prohibited personnel practices.
“Conclusion first, fact-gathering second — that’s no way to run an investigation. The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy,” Grassley and Graham wrote in a letter to Christopher Wray, the new FBI director, in late August.
They’re not wrong.
And frankly, unless they can provide some link between Hillary’s email scandal and the ongoing Russia probe, I don’t get the secrecy, at least, as far as those emails. This is something that could have been wrapped up, long ago.