Senators to AG Sessions: Recuse Yourself from Trump, Russia Investigations

Washington February 16, 2017 – All nine Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats today called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from any Justice Department investigations into Trump-Russia communications and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Additionally, the senators, led by Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), called on Sessions to limit communication between the Justice Department and the White House on all “criminal or civil enforcement matters.”

“[W]e ask that you recuse yourself from any investigations into contacts between the Trump campaign, transition team, or administration and Russian government officials or associates, including ongoing investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 election,” the senators wrote on Thursday. “We also ask that you take all necessary steps to ensure that these investigations continue unimpeded and free from political pressure or interference.”

Full text of the letter follows:

February 16, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Sessions:

Now that you have been confirmed as Attorney General, we are writing to make two requests.

First, we ask that you recuse yourself from any investigations into contacts between the Trump campaign, transition team, or administration and Russian government officials or associates, including ongoing investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 election. We also ask that you take all necessary steps to ensure that these investigations continue unimpeded and free from political pressure or interference.

Under Justice Department regulations, your recusal from these investigations is clearly warranted. 28 C.F.R. § 45.2 disqualifies anyone who is closely identified with an elected official or candidate with a substantial interest in an investigation. President Trump has an unquestionable interest in the outcomes of these investigations and your close ties to the campaign and General Flynn are equally clear.

Second, we ask that you comply with longstanding Justice Department policy limiting communications between the White House and Justice Department, particularly with respect to criminal or civil enforcement matters. Under Attorney General Mukasey, for example, communications on these matters were generally limited to designated representatives in the Office of the Counsel to the President and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General.

We ask that you circulate a memorandum to the heads of Department components, the United States Attorney’s offices, and the White House that makes clear the policy the Department of Justice will implement. Please provide a copy of this memorandum.

We appreciate your attention to these important questions and look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

 

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

Patrick Leahy

United States Senator

Richard J. Durbin

United States Senator

Sheldon Whitehouse

United States Senator

Amy Klobuchar

United States Senator

Al Franken

United States Senator

Christopher A. Coons

United States Senator

Richard Blumenthal

United States Senator

Mazie Hirono

United States Senator