Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) called on both Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Thursday to join him in pressing the Attorney General for an investigation into whether top oil executives made false statements during a recent Senate hearing when they said they did not meet with Vice President Dick Cheney about energy policy. His call was subsequently joined by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
During a joint hearing of the Commerce and Energy Committees on Nov. 9, senators heard testimony from the CEOs of the nation’s largest oil companies. When Lautenberg asked these witnesses whether their companies had participated in Vice President Cheney’s energy taskforce in 2001, they denied -- answers that were later contradicted by a report in the Washington Post. Cheney has refused to disclose who he met with at those meetings, citing executive privilege.
“If witnesses believe that the laws requiring truthful testimony before the Senate will not be enforced, our hearings will lose their usefulness and the Senate’s oversight abilities will cease,” Lautenberg wrote in his letter to Senators Frist (R-TN) and Reid (D-NV).
“I find it deeply disturbing that energy company CEOs may have made false statements before Congress about their involvement in the secretive Cheney energy task force," Reid said in a statement to RAW STORY. "Despite the Vice President’s active efforts to thwart open and transparent government, Congress has the right and the responsibility to seek and obtain information from witnesses that is honest and complete. When evidence arises that some of the statements made to Congress may be false, it calls into question a witness’s entire testimony and undermines Congress’s constitutional role."
Lautenberg sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Nov. 16 asking him to investigate whether oil executives violated the law by lying to Congress.
Almost two weeks since Lautenberg’s request, Gonzales has not responded. Lautenberg's office says he was scheduled to speak Gonzales this morning, but the Attorney General’s office cancelled at the last minute.