02.03.10

Leahy Responds To Request For Justice Department Oversight Hearing

Planning For Periodic Oversight Hearing Already Underway, Chairman Says

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) responded quickly Wednesday to a letter from Committee Republicans requesting a hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder.  Leahy began working with the Attorney General earlier this year to schedule a hearing date.

“I have continued in this Congress to conduct the oversight efforts I have always conducted during my chairmanship, whether the administration is Republican or Democratic.  I have…been working with the Department of Justice to schedule our next periodic oversight hearing with Attorney General Holder.  It should take place in March,” Leahy wrote.

Aides for Leahy have been working with the Justice Department since early January to confirm a date for an oversight hearing with Attorney General Holder.  Committee Republicans had not contacted Leahy about inviting Holder to testify prior to sending the letter Wednesday.

“Had you discussed this matter with me, you might have realized that such a partisan and divisive letter was unnecessary and unhelpful.  I hope that in the weeks and months ahead, instead of trying to create division and score political points, you and the other Republican members of the Committee will join with me and work with the administration on behalf of the American people, as we did after the 9/11 attacks,” Leahy wrote.

Under Leahy’s chairmanship, the Judiciary Committee has held periodic oversight hearings with key administration officials, including the Attorney General, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  In 2009, Attorney General Holder appeared four times before the Senate Judiciary Committee: at a confirmation hearing in January, at two oversight hearings in June and November, and at hearing in June concerning federal hate crimes legislation.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared before the Committee twice, in May and December, and FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared twice before the Committee, in March and September.

Oversight under Leahy’s chairmanship has continued in 2010.  The Committee’s first hearing this year featured testimony from Director Mueller, and senior officials from the State and Homeland Security Departments.

Holder is expected to testify before the Judiciary Committee in March.  Hearing details will be announced in the coming weeks.

The text of the letter is available online.

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February 3, 2010

The Honorable Jeff Sessions

Ranking Republican Member

Senate Committee on the Judiciary

152 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Jeff:

I write in response to your letter this morning.  

I have continued in this Congress to conduct the oversight efforts I have always conducted during my chairmanship, whether the administration is Republican or Democratic.  The Committee’s first meeting this year was such a hearing, with the FBI Director testifying on January 20, the first full day of this new session.  I have simultaneously been working with the Department of Justice to schedule our next periodic oversight hearing with Attorney General Holder.  It should take place in March. That will mark the fifth appearance by Attorney General Holder before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a little over a year.  In addition to the extensive confirmation hearing we held for Attorney General Holder last January, he appeared at our oversight hearings in June and November, and testified on the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act last year, as well.  In addition, last year, FBI Director Mueller appeared before the Committee at two additional oversight hearings, and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano appeared at two other oversight hearings.  We also had multiple appearances by the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the National Security Division, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division and the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division.  The Associate Attorney General, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Division, and a number of other high-ranking officials have also testified.    

Had you discussed this matter with me, you might have realized that such a partisan and divisive letter was unnecessary and unhelpful.  I hope that in the weeks and months ahead, instead of trying to create division and score political points, you and the other Republican members of the Committee will join with me and work with the administration on behalf of the American people, as we did after the 9/11 attacks. 

Sincerely,

PATRICK LEAHY

Chairman

cc: The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch

      The Honorable Charles E. Grassley

      The Honorable Jon Kyl

      The Honorable Lindsey Graham

      The Honorable John Cornyn

      The Honorable Tom Coburn

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