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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 SchumerChuck SchumerBipartisan governors call on Congress to pass coronavirus relief package Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms 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 McConnellOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks GOP senators back Christian school's push for COVID-19 carve-out Bipartisan governors call on Congress to pass coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.) ask Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTime to bring federal employees home for every holiday Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 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.

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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.

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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."