Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is asking the Department of Justice to explain why it dropped an inquiry into interactions between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.
Grassley, the Republican who chairs the Senate Justice Committee, recognizes the potential political impact of the probe, given Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s role, but doesn’t expect much cooperation, especially as Election Day nears. “I would give them about three to four weeks and if they get it done in three to four weeks, I’ll be satisfied with that,” Grassley says. “Quite frankly, I expect them to stonewall, like you get from this administration.”
Grassley says the DOJ dropped the inquiry despite reports of favorable action from the State Department for Clinton Foundation donors and concerns donations from foreign governments weren’t always vetted by ethics officers, as required. Grassley sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch saying, “The American people are entitled to reassurance that these matters have received thorough and objective investigation. It appears that the DOJ has turned a blind eye and refused to investigate.”
On another topic, Grassley is asking two large federal agencies to work together where appropriate in their review of the mergers of biotech and seed industry giants. Grassley says the U.S. Department of Agriculture should also be consulted as the billion-dollar deals loom.
“This collaboration is needed because the Dow/DuPont merger, which involves Iowa’s Pioneer, has been referred to the Department of Justice,” Grassley says, “while ChemChina’s purchase of Syngenta has been referred to the Federal Trade Commission for antitrust review.” Grassley says the U.S.D.A. should be included by Justice and the FTC due to “the complex and dynamic nature of the industry.”
He says the impact on competition could be enormous — and widely damaging. “The two pending transactions would already reduce the number of major seed companies from six to five,” Grassley says. “If a third major transaction were to occur, the number of major market participants could have an even more dramatic impact on the industry.”
Times are tough in the ag industry, Grassley says, as the U.S.D.A. continues to project dropping farm incomes. He says we can’t “ignore the impact on farmers and consumers of reduced competition that comes from the proposed mergers.”