The U.S. Justice Department, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton have asked Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration to shut down its internal investigations into the Flint water crisis.
They say those internal administrative investigations may have damaged their criminal investigations.
Listen here to Wayne State University Law Professor Peter Henning explain why officials are concerned:
Henning helped us figure out what exactly is going on here.
He said the complaints suggest that during the civil investigation of the crisis, employees of state departments were told they could be fired if they didn’t answer questions.
“What that does under law – and this is under the U.S. Constitution, the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination – what it does is it gives them immunity,” Henning said. “It means that their statements can’t be used against them, nor may any information developed out of that statement be used against them.”
This could impact criminal investigations, Henning said. It would make it difficult for criminal investigators to act on the information, should it fall into their hands.
“So it could substantially compromise the criminal investigations,” Henning said.