Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, assailed Attorney General Merrick Garland for ordering Justice Department employees not to communicate with members of Congress following whistleblower disclosures regarding the FBI probe into Hunter Biden's business affairs.
Garland issued an Aug. 30 memo saying that all communication with Congress must be conducted through the DOJ's office of legislative affairs, The Washington Times reported Wednesday.
Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, fired a letter to Garland on Thursday to condemn the AG's orders.
"I write this letter to make clear to you that whistleblowers are the most patriotic people I know and they play an integral part in ensuring that inappropriate influences, political influence, and improper conduct within the Department and its components, such as the FBI, are exposed," Grassley wrote.
"Under your leadership, the Department and FBI have failed to be responsive to congressional oversight requests. Accordingly, it is often only because of whistleblowers that Congress and the American people are apprised of the type of wrongdoing that your memo seeks to protect against."
The senator, a strong advocate for government whistleblowers, warned Garland that whistleblowers have rights.
"Even with your whistleblower caveats, and due to the timing of your memo, I remain concerned about the chilling effect it may have on whistleblowers who wish to approach Congress with information relating to fraud, waste, abuse, and gross mismanagement," Grassley wrote.
"As you are aware, the Department and FBI have a reputation for retaliating against whistleblowers that provide information to Congress. Accordingly, I'd like to remind the Department that, as a basic matter of law, all employees of the U.S. Government have a right to petition Congress or furnish information to Congress."
Grassley has vowed to pursue an investigation into Biden and to root out political bias in the FBI.
"I want you to know that I'm not going to give up on the Hunter Biden investigation," Grassley said while campaigning in Iowa during the weekend. "Every one of you in this room, and everybody that isn't in this room, ought to have extraordinary confidence in the FBI. But today, we can't have it."
Grassley in mid-August said whistleblower allegations revealed an alleged political bias at the FBI that has influenced high-level investigations, especially in the bureau's Washington, D.C., office.
Earlier this week, a senior FBI agent under scrutiny for alleged political bias during the Biden laptop inquiry had left the bureau. Timothy Thibault, a 25-year veteran, had come to the attention of congressional Republicans due to his politically charged social media presence and several internal leaks regarding his conduct.
Grassley called out Thibault in a May press release, requesting that the DOJ hand over records of his work history to the inspector general's office for an investigation.
Garland, the DOJ and FBI have been accused of anti-conservative bias and launching politically-motivated probes, including the raid on former President Donald Trump's Florida home.
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