Washington state’s U.S. senators join call for Sessions probe

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington state have joined nine other Democratic senators in urging the inspector general of the Department of Justice to investigate whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions violated his recusal from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and its ties to the Trump campaign with his involvement in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

In a letter sent to Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday, the senators stress that such a violation compromises the integrity of the ongoing investigation and raises serious concern about the attorney general’s ability to remain impartial in the investigation.

The letter outlines the timeline of Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation and highlights his involvement in the firing of Comey, who was leading the investigation.

“It is clear that Attorney General Sessions had an active role in the termination of Director Comey. This seems to be in direct violation of Attorney General Sessions’ recusal from ‘any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States,’ ” the letter says.

“At the time of his termination, Director Comey was actively leading the FBI’s investigations into both the attempts by the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential campaign, and the ties of members/employees/representatives of the Trump Campaign had, or have, with the Russian government or Russian intelligence services,” wrote the senators.

The senators ask the inspector general to answer the following questions:

• To what extent is Sessions required to recuse himself from investigations into matters related to the Trump campaign under 28 C.F.R. § 45.2, or any other relevant rules and regulations?

• What was the scope of Sessions’ publicly announced March 2 recusal?

• What is the timeline of Sessions’ involvement in the removal of Comey? Did his involvement in Comey’s termination violate his recusal agreement or requirements, or other DOJ rules, regulations, and precedents?

Also signing the letter are U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall of New Mexico, Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Kirsten Gillibrand of New Jersey, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.