Attkisson, Engelbrecht added to witness list for Lynch confirmation hearing

The occasion of Eric Holder’s exit from the Department of Justice gives Republicans in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee a big opportunity to air questions about long-simmering scandals such as Fast & Furious and IRS targeting. The committee has added some star power to the witness list, guaranteeing that conservatives — and likely the media — will hang on every word in the confirmation hearing for Loretta Lynch:

A former CBS investigative reporter who has filed a $35 million lawsuit against the Obama administration for hacking will be among the witnesses at a hearing on President Obama’s attorney general nominee.

Sharyl Attkisson has accused the Obama administration of breaking into her computer and phone after she reported stories that were critical of the administration, such as the events surrounding the 2012 attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya, and the failed “Fast and Furious” operation. She told her story in the book “Stonewalled.”

She will testify during this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Loretta Lynch, Obama’s nominee to replace Eric Holder as attorney general, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced on Monday evening.

Also testifying will be Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of the Tea Party-aligned True the Vote, which she has said was unfairly targeted by the IRS when it attempted to seek tax-exempt status.

Those aren’t the only recognizable names on the list, either, as Katie Pavlich reports:

-Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who has been an outspoken opponent of Attorney General Holder’s vilification of law enforcement

-George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, who has been highly critical of the Obama administration’s abuse of executive power

Attkisson might bring up Benghazi as part of her testimony as well as Fast and Furious. She had done investigative pieces on both scandals before her computer got hacked, and Republican members of the panel would certainly be open to hearing about all of the work that allegedly prompted the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the hack without telling her about it. She won’t testify at the same panel as Lynch, who wasn’t involved in these issues but will have to deal with them after she gets confirmed.

Engelbrecht will also be an interesting witness. Her organization got victimized by the IRS in a scandal that’s supposedly still under investigation. However, the FBI under Holder’s overall leadership was curiously reluctant to interview the witnesses in the case, who complained for months after the exposure of the targeting that no one from the DoJ had contacted them. Is that still the case? We’ll find out on Thursday, but don’t be surprised if the testimony from the Lynch confirmation prompts the Judiciary Committee to schedule more hearings on all of these scandals.

The witness list shows that Senate Republicans aren’t going to turn down the opportunity to shine a spotlight on these abuses of power. The confirmation hearing allows them to serve notice that the days of Harry Reid running interference for an out-of-control executive are over. The results on Thursday should be … entertaining, to say the least, if not enlightening for those who haven’t followed these scandals closely.

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