In response to President Donald Trump’s admission to firing FBI Director James Comey because of the Russian investigation into the president’s associates, Democratic Senators sent a joint letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz requesting an investigation into Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the investigation and his involvement in the firing of Comey. Besides terminating the man leading a federal investigation into his presidential campaign, Trump reportedly requested a loyalty oath before threatening him on Twitter.
“Shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the Washington Post published a story on March 1, 2017, entitled ‘Sessions Met with Russian Envoy Twice Last Year, Encounters He Later Did Not Disclose.’ One day later on March 2, 2017, Attorney General Sessions held a news conference announcing he would recuse himself from all matters related to investigations connected to the 2016 presidential campaign,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Martin Heinrich, Richard Blumenthal, Ron Wyden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jack Reed, Tammy Duckworth, Edward Markey, Patty Murray, Tom Udall, and Maria Cantwell wrote in a recent letter to Horowitz.
On March 2, Sessions announced that he would recuse himself from any involvement in the investigations…
During his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions falsely informed Sen. Al Franken that he “did not have communications with the Russians” while serving as a self-proclaimed Trump surrogate during the 2016 presidential campaign. In fact, Sessions had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice last year: once in July, at an event during the Republican National Convention, and once in September, in a private meeting in his Senate office.
On March 2, Sessions announced that he would recuse himself from any involvement in the investigations surrounding Trump’s presidential campaign possibly colluding with Russia. Despite his recusal, Sessions publicly admitted that he recommended terminating Comey to the president, whose campaign and associates are currently under investigation by the FBI.
“It is clear that Attorney General Sessions had an active role in the termination of Director Comey,” wrote the senators. “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 FBI’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.”
On February 13, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was forced to resign after falsely informing Vice President Mike Pence that he had not been in communication with Kislyak. According to The New York Times, Trump potentially committed obstruction of justice by repeatedly asking Comey to shut down the federal investigation into Flynn.
After Comey reportedly refused to pledge his loyalty to the president, the former FBI Director requested more prosecutors and other resources from the Department of Justice concerning the investigation into Trump’s campaign. The next day, Trump fired the man leading the investigation into his associates and later admitted that the Russia investigation had been his motive for the termination.
After kicking out U.S. journalists earlier this month, Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kislyak while allowing Russian journalists to photograph the event. According to recent reports, Trump imprudently revealed classified information to them that had been covertly acquired by Israeli intelligence.
“President Trump, in a reckless and dangerous manner, has revealed highly classified information to the Russians at a meeting in the Oval Office, information that could expose extremely important sources and methods of intelligence gathering in the fight against ISIS,” Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote in a press release. “Further, this could endanger intelligence sharing with a key ally in the Middle East. Protecting our national security is one of the most important tasks a president has, and Trump is failing at it. This new disclosure comes one week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was in the midst of an investigation of possible Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government in the recent election. All of this makes it vitally important that Trump make public any recordings he has of conversations in the Oval Office. We also need to proceed as soon as possible with the appointment of a special prosecutor.”
The senators requested information on whether Sessions violated the terms of his recusal by recommending Comey’s termination to Trump.
While federal investigators subpoena records concerning former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Flynn has offered testimony in exchange for immunity from prosecution. As Betsy DeVos’ brother Erik Prince secretly met with a Russian with close ties to Vladimir Putin reportedly discussing lifting sanctions prior to the election, Trump adviser Roger Stone openly communicated with a hacker on Twitter representing Russian intelligence agencies that interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Concluding their letter, the senators asked the DOJ Inspector General to clearly define the legal terms of Sessions’ recusal from the investigations and his direct involvement in Comey’s termination. In addition, the senators requested information on whether Sessions violated the terms of his recusal by recommending Comey’s termination to Trump.
On Wednesday, Sen. Warren took to Twitter and wrote, “AG Sessions didn’t just decide to recuse himself because he’s a nice guy. @TheJusticeDept regulations require it.”
AG Sessions didn’t just decide to recuse himself because he’s a nice guy. @TheJusticeDept regulations require it.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 17, 2017