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 HeinrichHillicon Valley: AT&T calls hiring Cohen a 'big mistake' | Wyden wants to block DHS nominee over Stingray surveillance | Amazon pressed on child privacy | One year anniversary of Trump cyber order Moment of truth for Trump pick to lead CIA Puerto Rico's electric grid under scrutiny as new hurricane season looms MORE (N.M.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenRising star Abrams advances in Georgia governor race Progressive rise is good news for Sanders, Warren Juan Williams: Trump gives life to the left MORE (Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google struggle to block terrorist content | Cambridge Analytica declares bankruptcy in US | Company exposed phone location data | Apple starts paying back taxes to Ireland Firm exposes cell phone location data on US customers Overnight Finance: Watchdog weighs probe into handling of Cohen bank records | Immigration fight threatens farm bill | House panel rebukes Trump on ZTE | Trump raises doubts about trade deal with China MORE (Ore.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSenators near deal on sexual harassment policy change Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Dem senators ask drug companies to list prices in ads MORE (N.Y.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Defense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain Overnight Defense: Trump aide's comment mocking McCain sparks outrage | Haspel gets another 'no' vote | Pompeo floats North Korea aid for denuclearization MORE (R.I.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Twitter CEO meets with lawmakers to talk net neutrality, privacy Senate votes to save net neutrality rules MORE (Mass.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid Dems warn against changes to federal family planning program Overnight Health Care: Drug company under scrutiny for Michael Cohen payments | New Ebola outbreak | FDA addresses EpiPen shortage MORE (Wash.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDem senator presses EPA over reporter 'intimidation' Dems expand 2018 message to ‘draining the swamp’ Overnight Energy: Pruitt taps man behind 'lock her up' chant for EPA office | Watchdog to review EPA email policies | Three Republicans join climate caucus MORE (N.M.) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Twitter CEO meets with lawmakers to talk net neutrality, privacy Senate Dems urge Trump to remain in Iran deal ahead of announcement MORE (Wash.) signed the letter, which was spearheaded by Heinrich and Warren.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
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.