Dem senators push for probe of Sessions over Comey firing
© Keren Carrion
Democratic senators are pushing for the Justice Department's top watchdog to probe Attorney General Jeff Sessions's role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
 
Eleven Democrats sent a letter to Michael Horowitz, the DOJ's inspector general, asking if Sessions's "direct role" in Comey's dismissal violated his pledge to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
 
"His involvement seems to be a clear violation of his recusal, and can only be construed as an attempt to influence an ongoing investigation that threatens to examine his own role in the 2016 presidential campaign, as well other elements of President Trump’s campaign and administration," the Democrats wrote in the letter. 
 
Democratic Sens. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichTrump, GOP fire back over Fusion GPS testimony Overnight Cybersecurity: Computer chip flaws present new security challenge | DOJ to offer House key documents in Russia probe | Vulnerability found in Google Apps Script Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators unveil election security bills | North Korea denies WannaCry role MORE (N.M.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren: Trump is a 'racist bully' Poll: Oprah would outperform Warren, Harris against Trump in California Democrats continue to dismiss positive impacts of tax reform MORE (Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWeek ahead: Senate takes up surveillance bill This week: Time running out for Congress to avoid shutdown Senate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump MORE (Ore.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandTrump thinks he could easily beat Sanders in 2020 match-up: report Listen: EMILY’s List upbeat about Dem House in '19 Desperate Democrats shouldn't settle for Oprah MORE (N.Y.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedLawmakers, political figures share their New Year's resolutions for 2018 Congress must provide flexible funding for owners of repeatedly flooded properties Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (R.I.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals Dems say they have 50 votes in Senate to overrule net neutrality repeal MORE (Mass.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCDC director to miss fourth hearing because of potential ethics issues Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding Ryan suggests room for bipartisanship on ObamaCare MORE (Wash.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallCongress has been broken by the special interests – here’s how we fix it Senate GOP seeks to change rules for Trump picks Dems celebrate Jones victory in Alabama race MORE (N.M.) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump Overnight Energy: Senate close to approving Arctic drilling | EPA cancels controversial media tracking contract | Trump officials sound alarm on mineral imports Lawmakers introduce bipartisan AI legislation MORE (Wash.) signed the letter, which was spearheaded by Heinrich and Warren.
 
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Sessions decided to recuse himself in early March after The Washington Post reported that he had spoken to the Russian ambassador during the campaign, when he was acting as a surrogate for Trump, contradicting testimony he gave during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
 
The Democratic senators argued that Sessions "appears to have been intimately involved" with Comey's firing, pointing to reports that Sessions was a part of high-level talks ahead of Trump's decision to fire Comey. They also pointed to Trump's initial statement on Comey's dismissal, which cited a recommendation from Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein. 
 
"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," they wrote. 
 
Despite initial statements from Trump and White House officials that emphasized the DOJ recommendation to dismiss Comey, Trump later told NBC News that he was prepared to fire the FBI chief "regardless" of the recommendation.
 
Democrats have seized on Trump acknowledging that "this Russia thing" was on his mind when he decided to fire Comey.
 
Comey was leading the FBI's investigation into any coordination between Trump's campaign and Russia before his firing.
 
The Democratic senators said Trump's comments about Russia in firing Comey spark further questions about Session's role and if he would "provide cover" for the president. 
 
In addition to determining if Session's involvement violated his recusal, Democrats want to know what impact it could have on the ongoing investigations. 
 
They also want Horowitz to clarify the extent and scope of Sessions's recusal, a timeline for his involvement in Comey's firing and if he has broken any DOJ rules or precedents.