Republican senators introduced a bill Wednesday that would increase the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General to include alleged DOJ attorney misconduct.
The legislation — known as the Inspector General Access Act of 2018 and proposed by Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — comes at a time when the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to release a report about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case.
“Our federal government inspectors general do a valuable job providing the information voters and lawmakers need to hold federal government agencies accountable. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice OIG currently does not have the power to review the conduct of DOJ attorneys, an oversight which this legislation corrects,” Lee said in a joint statement with his fellow Republican co-sponsors of the bill.
The Inspector General Access Act of 2018 matches the bipartisan Inspector General Access Act of 2015. Both pieces of legislation amend Section 8E of the Inspector General Act of 1978 by eliminating the mandate that the DOJ OIG refer all allegations of DOJ attorney misconduct to the Office of Professional Responsibility.
Grassley, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee noted the importance of the independence of an investigatory entity charged with evaluating DOJ attorneys.
“Misconduct by DOJ attorneys is a serious matter and should be investigated by an independent Inspector General, not by other Department attorneys, so there is no real or perceived conflict of interest. This bill ensures that the Justice Department’s inspector general is able to access and independently evaluate allegations of misconduct by Justice Department attorneys.”
Others have noted the current limitations of the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General during the current FBI probe, which was first launched by Horowitz back in January 2017.
Last April, Horowitz sent a criminal referral to the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia in relation to an IG report released on fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. However, the referral does not guarantee that McCabe will necessarily ever be charged for lying to authorities about revealing information to the media. (RELATED: Justice Department Watchdog Releases Damning Andrew McCabe Report)
“We are confident that, unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the administration, the US Attorney’s Office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute,” McCabe’s attorney Michael Bromwich said in a statement back in April.
However, McCabe is now seeking legal immunity for any testimony capitol hill lawmakers may want from him.