ongressional hearings are supposed to show the independence of Congress exercising its oversight of the executive branch. But that wasn’t the case with Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff and the Biden Justice Department in a series of hearings last fall.
Memos made public under the Freedom of Information Act show Ossoff, a freshman Democrat, fed his planned questions and even suggested an answer to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristin Clarke ahead of two Senate Judiciary Committee hearings last fall.
“Please let me know if you think AAG Clarke would have any trouble answering those (as in, whether it’d be hard for her to give a straight ‘yes’ to those and I can redirect them to someone on the second panel),” Ossoff’s general counsel Sara Schaumburg wrote to Deputy Assistant Attorney General Helaine A. Greenfeld in the department’s Office of Legislative Affairs ahead of the first hearing in early October 2021.
A few weeks later as a second hearing was approaching involving Attorney General Merrick Garland, Schaumberg sent another email with more questions and seemingly asked for permission to ask them.
“He obviously won’t get to all of these but sharing the full draft universe just in case,” the Ossoff aide wrote on Oct. 25, 2021. “Please let me know if anything causes heartburn. I’m particularly curious if you think the phrasing of the second Voting Rights windup/question could be unhelpful in any way.”
The memos obtained by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and reviewed by Just the News provide a rare window into the stage management that occurred between the Biden DOJ and its allies in Congress on what were supposed to be independent hearings.
They show Greenfeld initiated the Q&A sharing back on Oct. 3, 2021, a few days before Clarke was slated to testify in the Senate Judiciary Committee on voting rights and a new bill being considered to honor the late Congressman John Lewis.
“Sara, Just checking in to see if you know if your boss is planning to come to the three SJC hearings with DOJ witnesses this week: VAWA, Antitrust nominee, and Voting Rights, and what questions he might ask if he does come,” Greenfeld wrote Schaumberg. “We’d appreciate any intel you might have.”
Schaumberg obliged, confirming the senator would be going to the hearings and suggesting the line of questioning and even the preamble the senator would use to frame the question to Clarke.
“Wind-up: Mitch McConnell says the John Lewis voting rights bill is quote ‘unnecessary,'” Schaumberg wrote. “According to him, it’s already illegal to discriminate in voting bas…