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Top Democrats want documents on Sessions’ departure

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 11/9/2018 Diana Stancy Correll
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Democratic lawmakers are pressing members of the Trump administration to preserve and provide records pertaining to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ departure from the Justice Department and announced that congressional committees will be investigating the matter.

In a letter to Trump administration officials including White House counsel Pat Cipollone, FBI Director Chris Wray, and acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, top lawmakers on multiple committees requested that all documents related to Sessions’ ouster be submitted to them “immediately.”

Similarly, they called for records related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to be preserved and handed over to lawmakers.

“Committees of the United States Congress are conducting investigations parallel to those of the Special Counsel’s office, and preservation of records is critical to ensure that we are able to do our work without interference or delay," the lawmakers wrote. "Committees will also be investigating Attorney General Sessions’ departure. We therefore ask that you immediately provide us with all orders, notices, and guidance regarding preservation of information related to these matters and investigations.”

The letter was signed by ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein of California, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler of New York, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff of California, and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Elijah Cummings of Maryland.

Sessions resigned on Wednesday, per the request of President Trump, who announced that Matthew Whitaker would serve as acting attorney general.

The move was interpreted by Democrats as a “constitutional crisis” and an attempt by Trump to “undermine” the federal Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Sessions recused himself in March 2017 from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation, paving the way for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the investigation as its acting attorney general. Rosenstein then appointed Mueller to lead the investigation.

As a result, Whitaker’s role of acting attorney general means Mueller will be reporting to Whitaker rather than Rosenstein, at least temporarily.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee issued a letter to Whitaker and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., on Thursday requesting that Whitaker recuse himself from the investigation and allow Rosenstein to continue overseeing it.


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