Washington — Retired U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, will testify Tuesday before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee about concurrent congressional and criminal investigations.
Levin, who chaired the Armed Services Committee for 18 years and was a member of the Government Affairs Committee for 36 years, oversaw several congressional investigations that were simultaneously the subject of criminal investigations, including Enron, Wedtech and misconduct by U.S. and overseas banks.
Levin, the longest-serving senator in Michigan's history, has argued that congressional investigations such as the one into Russian interference in the U.S. election should continue, despite the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to probe the same issue. Mueller’s jurisdiction is limited to criminal misconduct.
“Concern has been expressed as to whether an ongoing congressional investigation could interfere with the criminal investigation. It need not,” Levin wrote in a recent op-ed in The Hill.
“While having both investigations moving simultaneously adds procedural complexity with both often needing access to the same documents and witnesses, that need not prevent either the Justice Department or Congress from fulfilling their missions.”
Levin says that in some circumstances, a congressional investigation can ultimately prove more important in the long run than determining whether the law was broken. He offered the example of the Watergate hearings that revealed truths that the prosecution of the Water burglars didn’t.
“That is not to say that criminal prosecutions are not important. They are. Only corrupt societies tolerate impunity,” Levin wrote. “But Congress also has an essential role to play in investigating and disclosing the facts, and it must carry out its constitutional obligation by moving forward with a bipartisan, fact-based investigation.”
Other witnesses slated to testify at Tuesday’s hearing of the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism include Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight; Andrew L. Frey of Mayer Brown LLP; and Charles Tiefer, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.