Friday, May 12, 2017

CONYERS: Top House Dems Raise “Grave Concerns” About Attorney General Violating Recusal Law on Comey Firing

Letter to Deputy AG Seeks Report on Removing Sessions or Other Discipline

Washington, D.C. (May 12, 2017)—Today, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., the Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter, below, to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein raising “grave concerns” about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ direct participation in President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey despite the fact that he previously recused himself from any actions involving the investigations of the Trump and Clinton presidential campaigns.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“If the facts now being reported are accurate, it appears that the Attorney General’s actions in recommending that President Trump fire Director Comey may have contradicted his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, breached the public recusal he made before the American people, and violated the law enacted by Congress to prevent conflicts of interest at the Department of Justice,” Cummings and Conyers wrote.

Cummings and Conyers cited Section 528 of title 28 of the United States Code which is entitled, Disqualification of Officers and Employees of the Department of Justice, which directs the Department to establish regulations to “require the disqualification of any officer or employee of the Department of Justice … from participation in a particular investigation or prosecution if such participation may result in a personal, financial, or political conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof.”

The penalty for any Justice Department official who violates such a recusal could be termination.  The statute states:  “Such rules and regulations may provide that a willful violation of any provision thereof shall result in removal from office.”

“Since the Attorney General previously recused himself from these matters—and since he may not sit in judgment on his own failure to comply with the law—we request that you, as the Acting Attorney General in this matter, report to us on the steps that must now be followed to address this apparent abuse,” the Ranking Members wrote. 

“We recognize that the Attorney General’s actions have thrust you into a very delicate position with respect to enforcing the law of the land against your superior,” Cummings and Conyers wrote.  “In this case, however, the Attorney General previously recused himself from these matters, leaving you with the solemn obligation to fulfill your responsibilities to the Department of Justice and the nation.”

The Ranking Members also requested a wide range of documents and information relating to the Attorney General’s involvement in the President’s recommendation to fire Director Comey.
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