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Press Release Published: May 4, 2023

Comer: U.S. Attorney for District of Columbia Must Testify About Failure to Prosecute Majority of Crimes

Considers subpoena to compel testimony

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) today is reiterating his request to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) for U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves to testify at an upcoming oversight hearing on the District of Columbia, including crime, safety, and city management. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Chairman Comer threatens to use the compulsory process if DOJ does not voluntarily permit U.S. Attorney Graves to testify at the Committee’s hearing schedule for May 16, 2023.

“The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is conducting an oversight hearing on May 16, 2023, to include officials responsible for the affairs of the District of Columbia. The Committee has invited Mayor Muriel Bowser and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Matthew Graves, to testify. Mayor Bowser accepted the invitation. The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) has informed the Committee that DOJ has refused to allow Mr. Graves to testify,” wrote Chairman Comer. “DOJ OLA’s excuse is an internal policy that generally prohibits U.S. Attorneys from testifying before Congress. This excuse is unpersuasive and inconsistent with past precedent.”

During a recent full committee hearing on oversight of Washington, D.C., a central theme was Mr. Graves pattern of not prosecuting crimes in the nation’s capital, allowing criminals back on the streets. The District of Columbia is a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress. Unlike other U.S. Attorneys, Mr. Graves is the only U.S. Attorney who serves as both the local and federal prosecutor for his area of responsibility.  Mr. Graves’ unique role makes his testimony necessary to conduct meaningful oversight of the city, including and especially issues regarding crime.

“Mr. Graves’ and his office’s decisions are contributing to rising crime in the city. At the Committee’s March 29, 2023 oversight hearing, D.C. Council Members blamed, in part, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for rising crime. Mr. Graves’ office is declining to prosecute violent crimes,” continued Chairman Comer. “If DOJ continues to obstruct congressional oversight in this matter, we will be forced to consider the use of the compulsory process.”

Read the letter to Attorney General Garland here.


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