- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee is not happy with the Justice Department’s conduct in the Hillary Rodham Clinton email probe, accusing it of “absurd” stonewalling of his investigation efforts.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, said Justice “failed to provide a substantive response” to a letter he and another Senate committee chairman had sent asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch about issues surrounding granting a “proffer” session to the man who set up and oversaw Mrs. Clinton’s email server — and who has asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on the subject.

Mr. Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican and Homeland Security Committee chairman, had offered Bryan Pagliano a “proffer” — a legal term for a preliminary overview on what a potential witness might tell a congressional committee — to decide whether to offer him immunity in exchange for his testimony. Mr. Pagliano’s attorney refused that request Sept. 9, saying the session might compromise his Fifth Amendment rights.

The senators sent Ms. Lynch a letter Sept. 14 asking whether the Justice Department “would deem a proffer session as a waiver of a witness’s Fifth Amendment rights and whether the department has an ongoing criminal inquiry related to the witness.”

In response, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kazdik wrote the senators back Tuesday — and cc’d their panels’ ranking Democrats — but parried all the substantive matters.

“Consistent with long-standing Department of Justice policy, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation,” Mr. Kadzik wrote, adding that it could not answer other questions.

Also, he wrote, “it would not be appropriate for the Department to speculate to provide legal analysis about hypothetical situations. We hope this information is helpful.”

Mr. Grassley answered that hope Wednesday with an emphatic no.

“The Justice Department is giving us less information than normal when they should be giving us more, so that we can make an informed decision about whether to seek an immunity order. You know it is getting a little absurd when someone at the Justice Department is apparently leaking details to the press about an investigation that the department officially refuses to admit to Congress that it is conducting,” Mr. Grassley said.

The senator from Iowa went on to say that his committee would be seeking more information in light of news reports this week that the FBI has been able to recover from Mrs. Clinton’s server some emails that the former secretary of state deemed “personal” and deleted before wiping the server clean.

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