Grassley looms as foil to POTUS – BY ALEXANDER BOLTON AND KATIE BO WILLIAMS – 08/07/17 06:00 AM EDT

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has emerged as a pivotal player in the controversy surrounding President Trump and Russia.

As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley has threatened to subpoena Trump family members and associates over their roles in the controversy surrounding Russia’s involvement in last year’s election.

He has also defended Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he had privately urged to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian meddling given the former Alabama senator’s support for Trump’s campaign.

Grassley warned the White House that there will be no confirmation hearings this year on a new attorney general if Sessions is dismissed.

In June, Grassley criticized Trump’s Office of Legal Counsel for an opinion holding that only committee chairmen have the constitutional authority to make official inquiries of the executive branch, not rank-and-file members.

Grassley shot that down emphatically.

“This is nonsense,” he wrote in a letter to Trump.

The actions highlight Grassley’s reputation as a dogged investigator — and an independent streak that has led him to embrace government whistle blowers.

“He’s got a strong sense of right and wrong and I think that sense even surpasses party, which around here is a real virtue,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Grassley and Feinstein displayed notable cooperation in their efforts to secure testimony from Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son.

Committee staff are negotiating to sit down with both men. The committee is expected to seek information from Jared Kusher, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House advisor, as well.

“This is vintage Charles Grassley. He believes in strong oversight and he’s going to be as aggressive as he feels like he needs to be in order to get it done,” said Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas).

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