POLITICS

Obama Just Had A Private Meeting With Key Republicans On Criminal Justice

A sticking point has emerged, involving the Koch brothers and white-collar crime.
President Barack Obama recently met with the Republican chairs of both the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees.
President Barack Obama recently met with the Republican chairs of both the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees.

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama recently held a private meeting on criminal justice reform with two key Republicans -- a sign that efforts to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill are likely intensifying.

Obama met with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who chair the judiciary committees in each chamber. While reducing some severe sentencing for nonviolent offenders has bipartisan support in both chambers, Goodlatte and Grassley have major differences over a policy known as "mens rea" reform, which has been promoted by billionaire Republican donors Charles and David Koch.

Goodlatte supports a Koch-backed mens rea policy that would make it impossible for prosecutors to bring cases against a broad swath of what are currently corporate crimes, including gross negligence by CEOs. Grassley has vehemently opposed the plan.

The White House confirmed to The Huffington Post that the meeting took place, and said the administration remains firmly opposed to the Goodlatte mens rea legislation. It's not clear on what day the meeting actually occurred.

Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr previously told HuffPost that the House bill "would create confusion and needless litigation, and significantly weaken, often unintentionally, countless federal statutes," including "those that play an important role in protecting the public welfare... protecting consumers from unsafe food and medicine."

The White House has never met with these two GOP leaders in private on criminal justice reform. The meeting was not posted on the president's public schedule.

Ryan Grim contributed reporting.

Zach Carter is a co-host of the HuffPost Politics podcast "So, That Happened." Subscribe here or listen to the latest episode below:

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