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 GiulianiThe Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting CIA found Putin 'probably directing' campaign against Biden: report Democrats fear Russia interference could spoil bid to retake Senate 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 FeinsteinTrump plans to pick Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg on court Trump faces tricky choice on Supreme Court pick The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' MORE (Calif.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Feinstein 'surprised and taken aback' by suggestion she's not up for Supreme Court fight Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime MORE (R.I.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Battle over timing complicates Democratic shutdown strategy MORE (Vt.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Feinstein 'surprised and taken aback' by suggestion she's not up for Supreme Court fight Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death MORE (Ill.), Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE (Minn.), Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsTrump's push for win with Sudan amps up pressure on Congress  Murkowski: Supreme Court nominee should not be taken up before election Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE (Del.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoManchin defends Supreme Court candidate Barrett: 'It's awful to bring in religion' Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Democrats unveil plan declaring racism a public health issue MORE (Hawaii), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe movement to reform animal agriculture has reached a tipping point Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTexas Democratic official urges Biden to visit state: 'I thought he had his own plane' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden on Trump: 'He'll leave' l GOP laywers brush off Trump's election remarks l Obama's endorsements A game theorist's advice to President Trump on filling the Supreme Court seat 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 BarrBill BarrFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Why a backdoor to encrypted data is detrimental to cybersecurity and data integrity FBI official who worked with Mueller raised doubts about Russia investigation 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 GrahamLincoln Project mocks Lindsey Graham's fundraising lag with Sarah McLachlan-themed video The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error 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.