Schumer Urges Dept. of Justice Inspector General to Launch Immediate Investigation Into Whether There Has Been Any Political Interference With Investigation Into Trump Campaign Ties to Russia
Schumer Says, When It Comes To Trump Administration’s Contact With Russian Officials & Russia’s Attempts To Influence The 2016 Election, Too Many Troubling Facts Have Come To Light With Firing Of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn & Revelations That Attorney General Jeff Sessions Misled Congress About His Own Contacts With Russia, Schumer Says It’s Time Inspector General Step In to Investigate Whether There Has Been Any Political Interference Into Ongoing DOJ Investigations Schumer: DOJ IMarch 6, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer today urged U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector Michael E. Horowitz to launch an immediate investigation into whether there has been any political interference with ongoing DOJ investigations, including those related to President Trump's campaign and transition, the administration's contacts with the Russian Federation, and Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election. In a new letter to the DOJ Inspector General, Schumer asks Mr. Horowitz to ensure that the investigation has not already been compromised by any political pressure from the White House or other administration officials.
“The American people deserve to know if the investigation into Russia’s interference with our election and the administration's contact with Russian officials has been compromised by political interference,” said Schumer. “As we saw last week – when Attorney General Sessions only decided to recuse himself after his misleading Congress regarding Russia contacts became public – this administration has not been forthcoming about its contacts with Russia, and are too slow to follow DOJ guidelines designed to ensure investigations are fair and independent. We need to ensure that the investigation is impartial, and hasn’t already been compromised in any way by the Trump administration. That’s why I’m calling on the Inspector General to get involved immediately.”
A copy of Schumer’s letter to the DOJ Inspector General appears below:
Dear Mr. Horowitz,
I write today to urge you to begin an immediate investigation into whether there has been any political interference with an ongoing Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation related to President Trump's campaign, transition, and administration's contacts with the Russian Federation and attempts of Russia to interfere with the 2016 United States election. As Inspector General, your mission is to detect and deter misconduct, as well as to investigate alleged violations of criminal and civil laws by DOJ employees.
Many troubling facts and questions have emerged with respect to the role of Russia in our election and the investigation of that role by the federal government. Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was fired because he misled the Administration about contacts he had with Russia. This week, it was revealed that Attorney General Sessions misled Congress about his own contacts with Russia, and he finally heeded the call to recuse himself from any investigation into Russia’s interference with our democracy.
Many questions remain about these issues, which I urge you to look into quickly and thoroughly. These questions include the following:
- Has the investigation into Russia been compromised by political interference?
- Have there been any attempts by any White House official to interfere with the investigation?
- Did Attorney General Sessions, who is now recused from this investigation, or his close associates personally manage the work of career officials at DOJ or the FBI in the course of the investigation thus far?
- The President met with the Attorney General several weeks ago, in the wake of General Flynn’s dismissal. Did they discuss the dismissal? Did they discuss the investigation?
- Have officials at the Department of Justice been subject to contact or pressure from the White House regarding an ongoing investigation?
- The White House has confirmed, that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus contacted FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to ask them to publicly rebut press reports about contacts between the campaign and Russian officials. Were these contacts proper?
- Did other members of the DOJ or FBI speak to White House officials about the press reports regarding Russia?
- Was Attorney General Sessions’ failure to recuse until last week improper?
- DOJ regulations clearly state that officials should recuse themselves from any investigation where they have a “political relationship” with the subject of the investigation. These regulations clearly cover Attorney General Sessions’ relationship, as a key advisor and surrogate, with the Trump campaign. Yet Attorney General Sessions failed to recuse himself until information about his misleading Congressional testimony became public. Should he have recused himself immediately?
- Attorney General Sessions reportedly first met with ethics officials over a week ago. Did they advise him to recuse immediately? Did he ever disregard advice from ethics officials at the Department?
- Were other officials at the Department involved in Senator Sessions’ misleading testimony to Congress?
- Did anyone at DOJ help prepare Attorney General Sessions for his confirmation hearing?
- Was anyone at the Department aware, prior to Attorney General Session’s confirmation hearing, that during the campaign he met with the Russian Ambassador to the US?
- Did Attorney General Sessions disclose his meetings with the Russian Ambassador in the context of completing his background investigation prior to his nomination?
- When did DOJ officials become aware that his testimony had been incorrect?
- What, if any steps, did DOJ employees or officials take to get Attorney General Sessions to correct the Congressional record?
Your office has a strong record of thorough, impartial investigations into potential wrongdoing, and I trust you will carry out your mission to answer the questions delineated above and any other that may arise.
Charles E. Schumer