- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2015

There’s a lot to answer for at the Justice Department, and members of Congress want to hear how the president’s nominee to be the next attorney general will deal with the controversial issues, said Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican.

Mr. Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, started off the confirmation hearing Wednesday by saying he hopes the nominee, Loretta Lynch, will make changes to the way the federal government’s law enforcement office has been operating.

“There are challenges facing the Department of Justice that go to the heart of our system of government,” Mr. Grassley said in prepared remarks. “How about restoring faith in bedrock principles like respect for the rule of law, and the fair and even handed application of those laws? How about restoring respect for the co-equal branches of government? How about taking care that the law is faithfully executed, and not rewriting it?”

Republicans have chastised the current attorney general, Eric Holder, for what they have viewed as a partisan, unapologetic defense of President Obama during controversies such as the IRS targeting of political advocacy groups, the president’s executive actions on immigration and the Fast and Furious operation that left a Border Patrol agent dead.

Mr. Grassley accused the Justice Department of covering up information about the operation, which resulted in the death of Agent Brian Terry.

“They denied, spun and hid the facts from Congress and the American people,” he said. “They bullied and intimidated whistleblowers, members of the press and anyone who had the audacity to investigate and uncover the truth.”

The Justice Department shouldn’t be focused on finding legal justification for whatever the president wants to do, Mr. Grassley said.

“The attorney general’s job is to represent the American People, not just the President and not just the Executive Branch,” the senator said. “I for one need to be persuaded Ms. Lynch will be an independent attorney general.”

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