Justice Department inspector general criticizes legal opinion on access to documents

Associated Press

The Justice Department's watchdog is criticizing a legal opinion that he says restricts his office's access to materials during investigations.

The opinion from the department's Office of Legal Counsel concerns the inspector general's ability to get confidential grand jury, wiretap and credit information.

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Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Thursday that the opinion means his office will need permission to obtain certain records.

He says such roadblocks hold up the release of reports and can delay the public from learning about fraud, waste and other misconduct.

Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce says in a statement that the department believes that the office should have access to all the information that it needs and is willing to work with Congress to close any loopholes that prevent that from happening.