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 Giuliani, 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 Feinstein (Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Christopher Coons (Del.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Kamala Harris (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 Barr 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 Graham (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.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Chris Coons Christopher Coons Cory Booker Department of Justice Department of Justice Inspector General Dianne Feinstein Dick Durbin Lindsey Graham Mazie Hirono Patrick Leahy Rudy Giuliani Sheldon Whitehouse Ukraine William Barr
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