Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is embracing a 30-year reputation as a zealous investigator who can rankle administrations of both parties, Politico reported.
The GOP chairman of the Judiciary Committee said his controversial decision to investigate the firing of former FBI Director James Comey might even examine issues of obstruction of justice, Politico reported.
"I don't want to say for sure, but I don't know how you can avoid it," Grassley told Politico. "Because the FBI was investigating it before there was a special counsel."
Grassley has been working out the parameters of an investigation of Comey's firing with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as well as potential political interference at the Justice Department under the Obama administration.
"He's a very direct, very honest man," Feinstein told Politico about Grassley. "So for me, that makes it very easy. He says what he thinks, and I appreciate that."
Although Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas — who is juggling both the Intelligence Committee probe and Judiciary's efforts — has warned the multiple investigations are a "train wreck waiting to happen," Grassley is not concerned.
"It fits in with the way we do oversight," Grassley said of his decision to investigate Comey's firing. "I can't look at whether the president is a Republican or a Democrat – my constitutional responsibility of oversight stays the same."
Grassley's reputation for fierce independence came under assault by Democrats last year when he played a big role in the GOP's decision to ignore the nomination of Merrick Garland. Now Democrats are praising Grassley's efforts to probe the Trump administration.
But just five months into the Trump presidency, Grassley has already clashed with the Trump administration, arguing officials are stonewalling Capitol Hill oversight by ignoring his information requests.
"It's just wrong," Grassley told Politico. "It violates the Constitution."
Grassley told Politico he has tried to argue to President Donald Trump that keeping a close eye on the federal bureaucracy is consistent with his campaign pledge to "drain the swamp."
"Every time I get the chance to talk to Trump, I said, you know, I think most people think draining the swamp means getting rid of too many federal employees and starting over again," he said. ". . . As far as I'm concerned, it's got nothing to do with — you can spend less money, you can reorganize government . . . but it's the culture of Washington.
"The president has to change the culture of these bureaucracies. That's what draining the swamp is — from my point of view."
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