02.27.17

On Senate Floor, Leahy Calls On Atty Gen Sessions To Recuse Himself From Investigation Into Russian Interference

Senator Patrick Leahy took to the Senate floor on Monday to call on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself and appoint a special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Leahy’s latest call came following new reports revealing that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus attempted to use the FBI, in violation of Justice Department policies, to suppress news reports about Russian contacts with Trump campaign officials.  With more questions surfacing every day about the growing evidence of Russia’s influence inside the White House, Leahy said it is long past time for an independent prosecutor to launch a full and fair investigation.

The American people deserve to know the facts.  They deserve a full and fair investigation, free from any political influence,” Leahy said on the Senate floor.  “Even a cursory review of the Justice Department’s recusal standards reveals that Attorney General Sessions does not have the independence necessary to assure wary Americans that this investigation will be driven by the facts, not by relationships.”

Attorney General Sessions was President Trump’s most outspoken supporter on the campaign trail.  He failed to demonstrate how he would be an independent attorney general during his Senate confirmation hearings, prompting the Washington Post to note that “Mr. Sessions would raise the appearance of a conflict” and should recuse himself to avoid such issues.

Justice Department regulations mandate that “no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with . . . [a]ny person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation.” 

This is not a close call,” Leahy said.  

He added:Nothing less than the integrity of our democracy is at stake with this investigation.  It is essential that it be led by someone who — in both appearance and reality — is impartial and removed from politics.  That does not describe someone who was in the trenches of a political campaign with the subjects of the investigation, while they were allegedly engaged in the activity under investigation.  For the good of the country, the Attorney General must appoint a Special Counsel, and the public must have answers.”

Leahy also joined all Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats recently to call on Attorney General Sessions to recuse himself from any Justice Department investigations into Trump-Russia communications and Russian interference in the 2016 election.  Committee Democrats also called on the White House, the Justice Department and the FBI to preserve all documents related to communication between Russia and all Trump officials and associates, as well as all documents related to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Senator Leahy’s full remarks are available online.  

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