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 HeinrichLive coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill Trade agency should listen to Congress on solar case MORE (N.M.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal MORE (Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Finance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (Ore.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (N.Y.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill This week: Senate wrapping up defense bill after amendment fight MORE (R.I.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack Dems propose data security bill after Equifax hack MORE (Mass.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayWeek ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets Policymaking commission offers a glimmer of hope in hyper-partisan Washington Dems call on DeVos to work with CFPB to protect student borrowers MORE (Wash.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallIT modernization measure included in Senate-approved defense policy bill Live coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill MORE (N.M.) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenate energy bill is misguided gift to Trump’s dirty fossil fuel agenda Help states solve their housing problems with the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Time to pass the U.S. OUTDOOR Act to support American jobs and consumers 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.