Press Releases

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today requested that the Justice Department inspector general investigate Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign and administration.

Feinstein was joined by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).

The senators wrote: “As part of this investigation, we ask that you consider whether and when the Attorney General consulted with ethics officials or others regarding his involvement in these investigations, his contacts with Russian officials, and his testimony before our Committee during the confirmation process. We also ask that you examine communications between Attorney General Sessions and the White House regarding recusal or the pending investigations, and the extent to which the Attorney General was involved in these investigations prior to his recusal. Please recommend appropriate action to address any problems that you discover.”

Full text of the letter follows:

March 3, 2017

The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz

Inspector General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 4706

Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Mr. Horowitz:

Public reports indicate that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is coordinating with other federal agencies to conduct a range of counterintelligence and criminal investigations into efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, as well as contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

During his confirmation hearing, Attorney General Sessions was asked by Senator Franken about contacts between the Trump campaign, in which he was an active participant, and Russian officials. In response to Senator Franken, Attorney General Sessions said: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

In written questions submitted following the hearing, Senator Leahy asked Attorney General Sessions “have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” The Attorney General responded “No.” At best, the Attorney General’s statements to the Committee were incomplete and misleading.

After the Washington Post reported that Attorney General Sessions had spoken with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice last year, Attorney General Sessions announced that he would recuse himself from “any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.”

Attorney General Sessions said that this decision followed the recommendation of Department ethics officials, though he has not explained why he failed to come forward and correct his sworn testimony before reports of his contacts with the Russian Ambassador became public, why there was a delay in recusing himself until those public disclosures, or why his recusal was limited to campaign-related investigations and not investigations of post-election Russian contacts with the Trump transition team and administration.

We therefore call on your office to conduct a thorough investigation into the Attorney General’s recusal decision.

As part of this investigation, we ask that you consider whether and when the Attorney General consulted with ethics officials or others regarding his involvement in these investigations, his contacts with Russian officials, and his testimony before our Committee during the confirmation process. We also ask that you examine communications between Attorney General Sessions and the White House regarding recusal or the pending investigations, and the extent to which the Attorney General was involved in these investigations prior to his recusal. Please recommend appropriate action to address any problems that you discover.

Thank you for consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

Patrick Leahy

United States Senator

Amy Klobuchar

United States Senator

Richard Blumenthal

United States Senator

Mazie Hirono

United States Senator

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