Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe

Senate Democrats are asking the Justice Department's top watchdog to expand its investigation into Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiCuomo steps into national spotlight with coronavirus fight Hannity offers to help Cuomo in coronavirus response with radio, television shows The Hill's Campaign Report: Officials in spotlight over coronavirus response MORE, Trump's personal lawyer, to include contacts with DOJ officials. 
 
Ten Democrats sent a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz asking that an ongoing probe into Giuliani's contacts with FBI officials include if he had "improper communications" with senior DOJ officials. 
 
"We are concerned that Mr. Giuliani’s interactions with senior DOJ officials may have unduly influenced or created conflicts of interests with regard to DOJ activities. At a minimum, Mr. Giuliani’s access creates an appearance of impropriety that could undermine trust in the agency," they wrote in the letter to Horowitz
 
"If his contacts do not violate one or more of these provisions, further internal guidance may be needed to ensure that DOJ delivers 'fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans,'" they added. 
 
Democratic Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDOJ probing stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of coronavirus crisis: report Lobbying frenzy connected to stimulus sparks backlash House bill would ban stock trading by members of Congress MORE (Calif.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights | Court sides with tribes in Dakota Access Pipeline case | Trump officials walk away from ethanol court fight Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights Overnight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' MORE (R.I.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyMnuchin emerges as key asset in Trump's war against coronavirus Lawmakers brace for more coronavirus legislation after trillion bill Democrats seek to increase supplemental funding bill to 0 billion MORE (Vt.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinLegal immigrants at risk of losing status during coronavirus pandemic Senate rejects GOP attempt to change unemployment benefits in coronavirus stimulus bill Senators pen op-ed calling for remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (Ill.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharBiden tops Trump by 9 points in Fox News poll States should plan now for November voting options With VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world MORE (Minn.), Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate includes 0M for mail-in voting in coronavirus spending deal Hillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Democrats press for more stimulus funding to boost mail-in voting MORE (Del.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocratic senators ask IRS to extend tax filing deadline amid coronavirus outbreak Democratic senators ask prison operators for answers on coronavirus plans Overnight Energy: EPA revamps 'secret science' rule | Scientists warn rule still limits research | Trump calls for full funding for conservation program | 19 states sue over border wall funding MORE (Hawaii), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden tops Trump by 9 points in Fox News poll Biden could be picking the next president: VP choice more important than ever With VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world MORE (Calif.) signed the letter. Each of the 10 Democrats are on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 
 
Horowitz told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee late last year that he was "very concerned" about leaks from FBI field offices to Giuliani. 
 
"We are investigating those contacts. We've issued a couple of public summaries so far about people we've found violated FBI policy. We have other investigations ongoing," Horowitz said at the time.
 
Giuliani has emerged as a controversial, but central, figure in recent months after he found himself caught up in the months-long impeachment fight and Trump's efforts to have Ukraine help investigate Democrats. 
 
Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky if he would work with Giuliani and help "look into" former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, according to a partial transcript released by the White House. 
 
The Democratic senators also included multiple reports referencing Giuliani's contacts with DOJ officials as part of an appendix to their letter to Horowitz. 
 
"These reports suggest that Mr. Giuliani has used his relationship with the President, including his representation of the President as a private citizen, to gain improper access to attorneys and investigators in the agency, particularly political appointees who serve at the President’s pleasure," they wrote.

"Various federal laws and regulations, as well as DOJ policies and procedures, are in place to prevent improper influence and actual or apparent conflicts of interest," they added. 
 
CNN reported last month that Giuliani met with Brian Benczkowski, assistant attorney general for the criminal division, as part of a case involving a Venezuelan businessman and that Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrStates should plan now for November voting options Democratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging Maduro pushes back on DOJ charges, calls Trump 'racist cowboy' MORE dropped in on the meeting. 
 
Giuliani, according to Reuters, urged DOJ officials to "go easy" on a Venezuelan businessman, though Giuliani declined to confirm that the meeting took place or whether the businessman was a client. 
 
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Pelosi comment on Trump is 'most shameful, disgusting statement by any politician in modern history' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on Campaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus MORE (R-S.C.) grabbed headlines earlier this month when he suggested during an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" that Giuliani could take any Ukraine findings to the Justice Department. 
 
He said Barr had told him that "they had created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it's verified."
 
Barr later confirmed that he had created an "open door" for individuals, including Giuliani, who had information coming from Ukraine. 

"There are a lot of agendas in the Ukraine, a lot of crosscurrents, and we can’t take anything we receive from the Ukraine at face value,” Barr said during a press conference.