Chaffetz Asks Justice Department to Uphold Institutional Interests of Congress

Published: Feb 16, 2017

Referral for non-appearance marks important step toward restoring Legislative Branch authorities

WASHINGTON – Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking the Justice Department to convene a grand jury or charge former State Department employee Bryan Pagliano for refusal to appear before a committee of Congress, a violation of 2 U.S.C. § 192.

Chaffetz released the following statement after sending the letter:
“The authority to compel witnesses is integral to Congress’s and the Committee’s investigative powers. Allowing Mr. Pagliano’s conduct to go unaddressed would gravely harm Congress’s ability to conduct oversight. This letter details the Committee’s significant efforts to work with Pagliano and his attorneys to avoid the necessity of a criminal referral – including giving Pagliano a second opportunity to show up after first failing to appear.”

Background:
Despite being subpoenaed to appear on September 13, 2016, and again on September 22, Pagliano failed to appear both times. On September 22, 2016, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to find Pagliano in contempt of Congress.

Excerpts from the letter:
“Because Pagliano’s job functions included supporting mobile computing issues across the Department, he was uniquely positioned to answer questions regarding State Department policies and practices for preserving records, as well as the technological procedures utilized to do so.”

“There is no legal basis for Pagliano’s refusal to appear before the Committee.  If left unaddressed, Pagliano’s conduct in ignoring a lawful congressional subpoena could gravely impair Congress’s ability to exercise its core constitutional authorities of oversight and legislation.”

“In light of Pagliano’s contumacious conduct in refusing to testify, the Department should bring the matter before a grand jury for its action or file an information charging Pagliano with violating 2 U.S.C. § 192.”

Full text of the letter can be viewed here.