Leahy, Whitehouse Seek Transparency in U.S. Attorneys Probe
Urge Solicitor General To Make Results Of Investigation Available To Congress, Public
WASHINGTON (Monday, April 30) - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator and former U.S. Attorney Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a member of the panel, today urged Solicitor General Paul D. Clement to make the results of a Department of Justice investigation into the unprecedented firing of several United States Attorneys available to Congress and the public.
"The results of the investigation will only be useful if they are accessible to Congress and to the public," the senators wrote in a letter sent to Clement on Monday. "The Congress and the public have a right to know whether DOJ officials have behaved improperly - and whether they have been truthful."
The Justice Department announced last month that the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) would conduct a joint investigation into the decision to fire several federal prosecutors. The senators are seeking the assurance that the results of the inquiry would be made public, in an appropriate fashion, to clear up any confusion given the conflicting policies of the two offices. The OIG routinely releases its reports while the OPR does not.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty have recused themselves from oversight of the joint OPR/OIG inquiry.
The text of the letter follows, a pdf version is attached.
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April 30, 2007
Paul D. Clement
The Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
Dear Solicitor General Clement:
As you know, the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have initiated a joint investigation to examine issues related to the recent dismissals of United States Attorneys. We write to seek assurance that the results of this investigation will be made available to the Congress and to the American people.
At the Judiciary Committee's April 19 oversight hearing, Senator Whitehouse asked Attorney General Gonzales whether the joint report of this investigation would be made public. Citing his recusal from the joint investigation, the Attorney General told the Committee that the question should be directed to you.
According to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine and OPR Counsel H. Marshall Jarrett, the investigation will examine the propriety of the dismissals, including whether the removal of any United States Attorney was intended to interfere with, or was in retaliation for, either pursuing or failing to pursue prosecutions or investigations. It will also examine the accuracy of statements made by various Department officials to Congress about the removal of United States Attorneys.
While we are hopeful that this joint investigation will help us to understand the truth of what occurred with these dismissals, the results of the investigation will only be useful if they are accessible to Congress and to the public. The Congress and the public have a right to know whether DOJ officials have behaved improperly - and whether they have been truthful.
Given that the OIG makes its reports publicly available as a matter of course, and that it is statutorily required to publicly release a summary of its activities and recommendations on a semiannual basis, we can think of no reason why the results of this very important investigation would not be treated in a similar fashion.
We look forward to your prompt response.
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