Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley has threatened to hold up President Barack Obama’s nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) until the Justice Department releases documents in a Minnesota case involving the applicant, according to The Hill
Grassley, the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants Justice to allow lawmakers access to 1,200 documents that allegedly detail the agency’s agreement to drop a False Claims Act case against St. Paul, Minn.
If this is not done, Grassley said he would hold up the nomination of acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones, who currently is the U.S. attorney for Minnesota. Grassley believes the Senate must thoroughly examine what role Jones played in the deal with St. Paul.
“As the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, he was aware of this arrangement and the details of how the agreement came to be,” Grassley said during the Judiciary Committee’s executive business meeting on Thursday.
“His emails are among the 1,200 documents that the Justice Department has refused to produce to the House and Senate as part of this investigation,” Grassley said. “At a minimum, those documents are necessary for us to completely and thoroughly examine his background and fitness to lead an agency that is riddled with problems.”
The ATF hasn’t had a confirmed director since Congress required confirmation for the position in 2006. Before that, the president could appoint the director without Senate confirmation.
Grassley has voiced his support for confirming a director of the ATF, but said Thursday he will not settle for a good-faith promise from Justice to hand over the documents.
“With all due respect to the department, I’ve been down that road before,” he said.
Grassley held up Deputy Attorney General James Cole’s nomination for months last year, arguing for access to DOJ documents on the botched Fast and Furious gun-running operation, which oversaw the sale of nearly 2,000 weapons to criminals in the Southwest region.
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