May 17, 2017

Heinrich, Warren Call For Investigation Into Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Letter to Inspector General raises concern of AG Sessions' involvement in the firing of FBI Director Comey, questions whether this is a violation of his recusal from Russia investigation

Text of the letter available here (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are urging the Department of Justice to investigate whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions violated his recusal from the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and its ties to the Trump campaign with his involvement in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. In a letter sent to Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the senators stress that such a violation compromises the integrity of the ongoing investigation and raise serious concern about the Attorney General's ability to remain impartial in the investigation.

The letter outlines the timeline of Attorney General Sessions' recusal from the Russia investigation and highlights his involvement in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the investigation.

"It is clear that Attorney General Sessions had an active role in the termination of Director Comey. This seems to be in direct violation of Attorney General Sessions' recusal from ‘any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.' At the time of his termination, Director Comey was actively leading the F.B.I.'s investigations into both the attempts by the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential campaign, and the ties of members/employees/representatives of the Trump Campaign had, or have, with the Russian government or Russian intelligence services," wrote the senators.

The senators ask the Inspector General to answer the following questions:

1. To what extent is Attorney General Sessions required to recuse himself from investigations into matters related to the Trump campaign under 28 C.F.R. § 45.2, or any other relevant rules and regulations?

2. What was the scope of Attorney General Sessions' publicly announced March 2, 2017 recusal?

3. What is the timeline of Attorney General Sessions' involvement in the removal of F.B.I. Director James Comey? Did his involvement in Director Comey's termination violate his recusal agreement or requirements, or other DOJ rules, regulations, and precedents?

"It is imperative that the American people have faith in the institutions that are investigating the influence a hostile foreign power may have had on our presidential campaign, election, and the current administration of President Trump. We believe the Attorney General's involvement in the termination of Director Comey has injected the exact "partiality" in these investigations he claimed to wish to avoid. Further, the President's recent admission that Comey was fired, at least in part, due to the Russia investigation only raises further questions about the role of the Attorney General in the termination, his willingness to provide cover for a political decision, and both his and the Department of Justice's ability to perform an independent investigation," the senators continued in their letter.

Also signing the letter are U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

A copy of the letter is available here.