Sen. Grassley enters fray in pushing for answers from Holder, Mueller on FBI’s Petraeus probe
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the powerful Senate judiciary committee, is pushing FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder for answers on the federal probe that uncovered former CIA Director David Petraeus’ extramarital affair.
Petraeus resigned after an FBI-led probe discovered he was cheating on his wife with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
In a Thursday evening press release announcing a letter he sent to Mueller and Holder demanding answers, Grassley said he’s concerned about the FBI’s use of its federal law-enforcement power to investigate the personal lives of the people involved in this scandal. (RELATED: Judge flags ‘police state’ surveillance tactics in Petraeus case)
“A number of questions have been raised about the FBI’s actions during the course of its investigation of the Petraeus matter,” Grassley said. “It would be best for the administration to be forthright and transparent so the country can feel comfortable that our chief domestic law enforcement agency is doing everything properly under the law to protect national security.”
Grassley is calling for Holder and Mueller to provide him with a detailed briefing of the facts surrounding the FBI’s decision-making process in this case.
Specifically, Grassley is asking for, among other things, “a timeline of events from initial contact with FBI personnel through the current status of the inquiry” and an explanation of how and why the FBI opened the inquiry.
In addition, the Hawkeye state’s oversight bulldog wants “a detailed list of personnel who signed off on the investigation,” and a detailed account of the legal authority used to obtain the electronic communications of the subjects of the investigation.
Grassley also requested an accounting of the role played, if any, by U.S. attorneys.
Earlier this week, Grassley said an FBI official openly refused to provide this information to his staff during a brief phone call.
“On Tuesday, my staff received a very brief preliminary call with an official from the FBI who declined to discuss the matter, citing its ongoing nature,” Grassley wrote to Mueller and Holder. “However, the FBI official suggested my staff issue a formal request to the Department.”
Mueller provided a closed-door briefing to members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on the Petraeus events on Wednesday. He also gave a closed-door briefing to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy on the topic, but has thus far not given similar information to Grassley, Leahy’s counterpart.
Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a member of the House judiciary committee and House oversight committee, raised questions about the FBI’s use of investigative power in this case in an interview with The Daily Caller this week.
When asked if he thinks the FBI illegally hacked certain email account in the course of its investigation, Chaffetz told TheDC he thinks that’s “a legitimate question that is yet unanswered.”
Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano raised similar questions in another interview with TheDC.
Napolitano said the federal investigation was “the use of law enforcement either for a personal vendetta that [Tampa military liaison Jill] Kelley pushed through her FBI agent connection, or a political vendetta – somebody wanting to silence, by embarrassing, humiliating and destroying the credibility of Petraeus.”
“Not only does it not appear there was a crime committed,” Napolitano continued, “[and] not only does it not appear that there was a national security implication, but this is hardly the type of thing that the FBI investigates. This was instigated, apparently, by the Kelley woman, and her friend in the FBI. That is an inappropriate means to commence an investigation by the FBI.”
It also appears the information the FBI uncovered has been leaked to the press in an effort to smear Petraeus’ reputation, according to Napolitano.
Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has not answered inquiries about whether Holder and Mueller will comply with Grassley’s request.
She also hasn’t answered separate inquiries about whether she is involved in any way in leaking law enforcement information.
Schmaler has used left-wing group Media Matter for America to smear whistleblowers and the press in the Fast and Furious and New Black Panther Party scandal investigations.