U.S. Democrats Seek Hear­ings on Trump’s Ouster of Ses­sions


WASH­ING­TON (Reuters) - Con­gres­sional Democrats on Thurs­day de­manded emer­gency hear­ings in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to in­ves­ti­gate Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ouster of At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, call­ing the move an ef­fort to un­der­mine a fed­eral probe into Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 U.S. elec­tion.

Trump forced the res­ig­na­tion of Ses­sions on Wed­nes­day, a day af­ter elec­tions in which his fel­low Repub­li­cans lost con­trol of the House but in­creased their ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate.

In a let­ter bit.ly/2DaU1nl say­ing the move placed the coun­try “in the throes of a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis,” House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Democrats de­manded ac­tion from the panel’s Repub­li­can chair­man, Bob Good­latte, and called for bi­par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller from any ef­fort to stymie the probe.

A spokes­woman for Good­latte had no com­ment on the let­ter.Con­gres­sional Democrats, in­clud­ing newly elected mem­bers of the House, held a con­fer­ence call on Thurs­day to dis­cuss Ses­sions’ ouster, Demo­cratic law­mak­ers and aides said.

Mueller is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sia’s al­leged in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion and any col­lu­sion by Trump’s cam­paign. Trump, who de­nies any col­lu­sion, has long com­plained about the probe, call­ing it a witch hunt. He had fre­quently pub­licly cas­ti­gated Ses­sions for re­cus­ing him­self last year from the case.

Dur­ing the Thurs­day con­fer­ence call, House Democrats said they would at­tempt to in­clude leg­is­la­tion pro­tect­ing Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion in an ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill that Con­gress is due to con­sider later this year. Ses­sions’ ouster “just makes us all the more want to make sure we have that spe­cial coun­sel pro­tec­tion bill passed or added to any spend­ing bill that may be mov­ing in the (end-of-year) ses­sion,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mark Po­can.

“We are watch­ing what ap­pears to be con­tin­ued ob­struc­tion by this White House,” Po­can said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. He said Democrats were con­cerned about what the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion might do next con­cern­ing the spe­cial coun­sel probe: “Any­one writ­ing even a dime-store novel knows what the next cou­ple of steps are on this.”

Asked to com­ment on the Democrats’ call for a spe­cial coun­sel pro­tec­tion bill, a spokes­woman for the of­fice of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Repub­li­can, re­ferred to past re­marks by Ryan. He has said he does not be­lieve there is a need for Con­gress to pass leg­is­la­tion aimed at pro­tect­ing the spe­cial coun­sel from ter­mi­na­tion.

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