Schumer requests closed-door briefing with Sessions on FBI firing

Schumer requests closed-door briefing with Sessions on FBI firing
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration White House: Trump remarks didn't derail shutdown talks Schumer defends Durbin after GOP senator questions account of Trump meeting MORE (D-N.Y.) wants the top two officials at the Justice Department to meet with senators about the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Schumer said on Wednesday he is requesting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.) ask Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants DOJ wades into archdiocese fight for ads on DC buses Overnight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector MORE and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to agree to a closed-door "all-senators" briefing.

"I will be requesting that the majority leader call a closed and if necessary classified all-senators briefing with the attorney general and the deputy attorney general separately, at which they can be asked questions," he said from the Senate floor.

Schumer noted that senators could also speak with Comey because he is "now a private citizen."

He added that senators could use the briefings to find out why Sessions was involved in the decision to fire Comey even though he had recused himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether Rosenstein was acting on his own or at the direction of Sessions or the White House.

"There are a great many outstanding questions about the circumstances of Director Comey's dismissal, the status of the executive branch investigation into the Trump campaign ties to Russia and what the future holds for these investigations," Schumer said.

He added that he would remind McConnell and GOP senators that "nothing less is at stake than the American people's faith in our criminal justice system and the integrity of the executive branch of our government."

McConnell, who spoke before Schumer, didn't mention asking Department of Justice officials to come speak with senators. His office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Instead, the Senate's top Republican focused his remarks on Comey, noting that Democrats had previously criticized the FBI director and helped confirm Rosenstein last month.

"This is what we have now, Mr. President, our Democratic colleagues complaining about the removal of the FBI director whom they themselves repeatedly and sharply criticized, that removal being done by a man, Rod Rosenstein, who they repeatedly ... praised," McConnell said.

Schumer reiterated his call for Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI's Russia investigation, adding "if there was ever a time when circumstances merited a special prosecutor, it's now."