Top Dems call for report on Sessions's role in Comey firing

Top Dems call for report on Sessions's role in Comey firing
© Getty Images

The top Democrats on two powerful House committees are calling for a report on possible disciplinary actions against Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump ramps up scrutiny of legal immigrants Data confirm that marijuana decriminalization is long overdue The FIRST STEP Act sets up a dangerous future MORE for his role in FBI Director James Comey's firing.

The Democrats say Sessions may have violated his pledge to recuse himself from any investigations involving Russia's effort to influence U.S. elections.

In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, House Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) pressed the Justice Department to explain Sessions' role in President Trump's decision to fire Comey.

"Federal law sets forth as a penalty for recusal violations removal from office, and the Attorney General's violation in this case appears to be particularly grave," the letter reads.

ADVERTISEMENT
"Since you are the Acting Attorney General in this particular matter, we call on you to explain the measures that now may be required to mete out appropriate discipline in this case."

A memo authored by Rosenstein released in the wake of Comey's firing on Tuesday argued that the FBI head had handled the bureau's investigation into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCarter Page warrant reflects attack on our civil liberties Former Obama aide to Comey: 'No one is asking for your advice' Comey to Dems: 'Don't lose your minds and rush to the socialist left' MORE's use of a private email server unprofessionally, concluding that he was no longer fit to lead the nation's top law enforcement agency.

A second memo from Sessions seconded Rosenstein's recommendation.

"Based on my evaluation, and for the reasons expressed by the Deputy Attorney General in the attached memorandum, I have concluded that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI," Sessions wrote.

But the attorney general's recommendation immediately drew scrutiny from Democrats, who accused Sessions of breaking his vow to stay out of federal investigations into Russia's efforts to influence the presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Sessions had recused himself from the probe in March after facing a flurry of criticism for failing to disclose contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. during Trump's presidential campaign. At the time of the meetings, Sessions was a high-profile surrogate for Trump.

By recommending Comey's ouster in spite of his recusal, Cummings and Conyer wrote in their letter, Sessions could open himself up to possible termination from the Justice Department.

"If the facts now being reported are accurate, it appears that the Attorney General’s actions in recommending that President Trump fire Director Comey may have contradicted his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, breached the public recusal he made before the American people, and violated the law enacted by Congress to prevent conflicts of interest at the Department of Justice," the letter reads.