Dems ask: Did AG Jeff Ses­sions vi­o­late his re­cusal terms?

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Local / Nation - By Matthew Schofield

WASH­ING­TON — House Democrats are sug­gest­ing that At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions could be re­moved from of­fice for the role he played in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s fir­ing of FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey.

The sug­ges­tion, made in a let­ter re­leased Thurs­day by two se­nior Democrats and signed by 32 oth­ers, is di­rected to Depart­ment of Jus­tice In­spec­tor Gen­eral Michael Horowitz, who in­ves­ti­gates mis­con­duct. The let­ter asks Horowitz to con­sider “whether At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions vi­o­lated his re­cusal from mat­ters re­lat­ing to the pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns in 2016 when he par­tic­i­pated in Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­ci­sion to fire FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey.”

The let­ter notes an in­tent to “make clear that our re­quest is sep­a­rate and apart from Spe­cial Coun­sel (Robert) Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion which con­cerns only whether any crim­i­nal acts oc­curred.”

They in­stead are fo­cused on “the pro­to­cols gov­ern­ing re­cusals” at the depart­ment. The let­ter states: “Ac­cord­ing to this law, the ad­min­is­tra­tive penalty for any Depart­ment of­fi­cial who vi­o­lates such a re­cusal could be ter­mi­na­tion.”

Ses­sions ap­peared to ad­dress the ques­tion in re­cent tes­ti­mony to the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee. “The re­cusal in­volved one case in­volved in the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and in the FBI. They con­duct thou­sands of in­ves­ti­ga­tions. I’m the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the United States. It’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to our Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee and other com­mit­tees to en­sure that the depart­ment is run prop­erly,” he said.

Thurs­day’s let­ter was signed by the rank­ing Democrats on the House Over­sight and House Ju­di­ciary com­mit­tees, Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings of Mary­land and Rep. John Cony­ers Jr. of Michi­gan. In it, they re­stated Ses­sions’ own terms of re­cusal.

“The At­tor­ney Gen­eral has made clear re­peat­edly in broad and un­equiv­o­cal terms that he re­cused him­self from all mat­ters in­volv­ing both the Trump and Clin­ton pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns,” the let­ter states. “Col­lab­o­rat­ing di­rectly with Pres­i­dent Trump to fire Di­rec­tor Comey” in­di­cated a “lapse in judg­ment by our na­tion’s top law en­force­ment of­fi­cial.” The let­ter noted Ses­sions’ in­volve­ment also “vi­o­lated mul­ti­ple prom­ises made by the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and his aides.”

The let­ter says Ses­sions made a pledge not to get in­volved in mat­ters in­volv­ing for­mer Sec­re­tary of State and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton dur­ing his un­der-oath Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion process, and also on March 2 when he an­nounced his re­cusal “from any ex­ist­ing or fu­ture in­ves­ti­ga­tions of any mat­ters re­lated in any way to the cam­paigns for Pres­i­dent of the United States.”

The let­ter was signed by se­nior Democrats, and copied to the Repub­li­can chair­men of the two in­flu­en­tial com­mit­tees. For Cum­mings, it is the third in­ves­tiga­tive let­ter re­leased in re­cent weeks to be sent out with­out a chair­man’s co-sig­na­ture.

Last week, Cum­mings sent a let­ter to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus say­ing he has se­ri­ous con­cerns about whether the White House is “prop­erly safe­guard­ing clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion,” and re­quest­ing in­for­ma­tion about the se­cu­rity clear­ances of for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn, se­nior ad­viser Jared Kush­ner and other of­fi­cials.

OLIVIER DOULIERY/ABACA PRESS

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions tes­ti­fies dur­ing a U.S. Se­nate Select Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence hear­ing on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. on June 13.

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