WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement today after voting against the nomination of Katharine MacGregor to be Deputy Secretary of the Interior:
“Today, I voted against Katharine MacGregor’s nomination to be Deputy Secretary of the Interior, following the Department of the Interior’s failure to respond to my many questions about the tragic shooting and killing of Virginian Bijan Ghaisar by two U.S. Park Police officers more than two years ago. In November, I wrote the Department requesting information regarding the United States Park Police’s Use of Force and Vehicle Pursuit policies and the Park Service’s response to the shooting of Bijan. While copies of the updated Use of Force and Vehicle Pursuit policies were recently provided to the Washington Post, I still have not received a substantive response to my numerous inquiries to the Department about these policies, as well as the circumstances surrounding Bijan’s death.
“If the Department continues to ignore my requests for information, I will strongly consider placing a hold on Interior nominees moving forward until I receive adequate responses to my questions surrounding the Park Service’s handling of the shooting. Today, I met with the Department of Justice to receive a briefing on their investigation into Bijan’s death. Both DOJ and the Department of the Interior still face many unanswered questions, and Bijan’s family deserves answers about what happened the night their son and brother was shot and killed. Two years is too long to wait.”
In January of 2018, Warner, along with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), pushed the FBI for an update on the status of the FBI’s investigation into the fatal 2017 shooting. In October of that year, Warner sent a letter to the head of the National Park Service (NPS) regarding the circumstances under which U.S. Park Police officers engaged with Mr. Ghaisar.
In June 2019, Sen. Warner along with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) decried the opaque and drawn-out nature of the review of the Ghaisar case in letters to both the FBI and NPS. The FBI provided a brief response in August, leaving many questions unanswered. In October, NPS provided a partial response, which prompted a follow-up letter from the Senators seeking more information.
In November, the Senators formally requested an FBI briefing on its investigation into the fatal shooting.