Senior Justice Department official refused to appear for inspector general investigation — then abruptly quit

Senior Justice Department official refused to appear for inspector general investigation — then abruptly quit
William Barr in Jan. 2020, U.S. Dept. of Justice

A Justice Department Inspector General investigation had a strange moment when a senior official refused to speak to the IG and then abruptly resigned.

According to the report, a "non-career member of the Senior Executive Service" refused to appear for a compelled interview with the IG, which then triggered a misconduct finding.

"During the course of an ongoing administrative misconduct investigation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) informed a then senior DOJ official ... that the senior DOJ official was a subject in the investigation and that the OIG sought to interview the senior DOJ official in connection with the investigation," said a statement on the incident.

The report describes "several unsuccessful attempts to schedule a voluntary interview" and specifically told the official that "neither the answers the senior DOJ official provided nor any evidence gained by reason of those answers could be used against the senior DOJ official in a criminal proceeding."

Still, however, the official refused to appear before abruptly resigning.

"The OIG concluded that the senior DOJ official violated both federal regulations and DOJ policy by failing to appear for a compelled OIG interview while still a DOJ employee," the statement also explained. "The OIG offered the senior DOJ official the opportunity to cure that violation by participating in a voluntary interview after leaving the Department, but the senior DOJ official, through counsel, declined to do so. The OIG has the authority to compel testimony from current Department employees upon informing them that their statements will not be used to incriminate them in a criminal proceeding."

The office of the inspector general doesn't have the power to subpoena former staffers from the DOJ for internal investigations. So the resignation of the staffer made the attempts at an interview moot.

Legal expert Marcy Wheeler speculated that the investigation possibly had to do with Andrew McCabe or Peter Strzok and inside officials attempting to attack the two men who ultimately were forced out of the FBI.

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