- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Justice Department is showing progress when it comes to responding to senators’ oversight requests, according to a top Republican senator who previously expressed frustration at having inquiries ignored.

Sen. Charles Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he’d had a productive dialogue with Justice Department officials about the transparency issues and felt comfortable enough about the progress to advance a pending DOJ nomination.

The committee had previously held off a vote for Stephen Boyd as the nominee to be the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, with Mr. Grassley threatening not to advance the nomination until he received responses to 15 pending inquiries. On Thursday, the committee voted unanimously to advance Mr. Boyd’s nomination.

“I’ve had some productive conversations with the department leadership on this issue,” the Iowa Republican said at Thursday’s business meeting. “I’ve received some responses, I think we have a conversation going, so if it continues as it has, I’m going to be willing to move Mr. Boyd’s nomination out of committee.”

Mr. Grassley noted that Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin also had open information requests, and that he expected progress on that front as well.

“In regard to Sen. Durbin’s request, I don’t want anybody in the executive branch of government to think just because a Democratic senator makes a request for oversight or information or documents that it shouldn’t be respected the same as any Republican member or the same as any committee chairman,” Mr. Grassley said.

The concern over the Trump administration’s response to lawmakers’ requests for information comes after executive branch officials reportedly directed federal agencies to ignore requests for information from Democrats. The Justice Department had also issued a legal opinion that appeared to give the White House legal cover to do so.

Last week, when Mr. Grassley postponed a vote on Mr. Boyd’s nomination, he noted that the Judiciary Committee was awaiting responses to at least 15 requests for information. Some of the requests dated back to the Obama administration.

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