In spite of the current administration’s endemic corruption, and congressional Republicans complicit involvement in covering up, or at least ignoring, blatant corruption and criminal acts, it was surprising there was little outrage after it was revealed the Attorney General committed perjury before the Senate. Even for corrupt Republicans, it seemed impossible they would do or say nothing about the nation’s top lawman committing a federal felony with impunity, but apparently there really is a perverted sense of honor among Republican criminals. Now, because Jeff Sessions was able to commit a federal felony and then get rewarded with a cabinet level position, he broke the law again. But Democrats are finally taking the criminal Sessions’ actions seriously and calling for his discipline at the least, and by rights summary termination.
The day following Trump’s obstruction of justice in firing James Comey, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) labeled Sessions’ role in the criminal obstruction of justice endeavor a “blatant disregard for the pledge he made in his recusal letter.” Remember, proud evangelical Sessions had to recuse himself from “any investigations” related to the Russian interference in the 2016 election because he violated the Ninth Commandment (he lied) about his contacts with Russians during the campaign. Wyden’s point, and it is beyond refute, is that Sessions violated that “public recusal” when, as attorney general, he played an integral role in firing the FBI Director overseeing the probe into Russian interference in the election; thus Senator Wyden’s remark that Sessions displayed “blatant disregard for the pledge he made in his recusal letter.”
On Friday, two House Democrats went farther than just talking about Sessions’ violations and rightly asserted that indeed, in violating two very public recusal pledges, the Attorney General broke the law. The House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) was joined by the highest ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) in issuing a letter to the Department of Justice demanding disciplinary action for Sessions’ federal violations.
In their letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, senior House Democrats Conyers and Cummings not only informed Rosenstein that Sessions broke another federal law, they demanded to know what kind of discipline the Deputy Attorney General was going to impose on the nation’s top law enforcement official. They wrote in part:
“We are writing to request your assistance in addressing the crisis of confidence created by Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he participated directly in the 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.
It appears that the Attorney General’s actions recommending that 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.
Federal law sets forth as a penalty for recusal violations removal from office, and the Attorney General’s violation in this case appears to be particularly grave. Since you are the acting Attorney General in this particular matter, we call on you to explain the measures that now may be required to mete out appropriate discipline in this case.” (author bold)
The issues leading to Sessions committing another federal crime are his blatant violation of two separate recusal promises related to the 2016 presidential campaign. First, during his Senate confirmation hearing, Sessions promised to recuse himself from any investigation involving Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton because of the several derogatory statements he made about her while he was actively campaigning for the Trump.
Second, Sessions succumbed to public and Democratic pressure on March 2 after it was revealed he committed perjury under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee when he could no longer conceal that he lied that he had no contacts with Russia’s ambassador. But instead of resigning from Trump’s Cabinet, or being charged with perjury, removed from office, and prosecuted, Sessions simply recused himself from “any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.”
The two House Democrats’ letter to Rosenstein, also complicit in aiding Trump’s obstruction of justice in Mr. Comey’s dismissal, asserted that Sessions broke the law by violating his recusal promises in several ways.
First, the Democrats point out that in his May 9 letter to Trump recommending Comey’s immediate termination, Sessions specifically agreed with the assessment by Rosenstein that Comey mishandled the “investigation into Clinton’s emails.”
That was a direct contradiction to Sessions’ first recusal promise and it is a contradiction widely publicized and in writing. And, in Representative Conyers and Cummings’ letter they particularly cited a report in Reuters that Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, and Trump met with and asked the then-FBI Director Comey to give them a preview of his testimony into the “Clinton email investigation” when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3; another violation of Sessions’ stated recusal.
As far as Jeff Sessions’ very public recusal regarding the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election on Trump’s behalf, the House Democrats specifically made note of “multiple press reports that stated that Mr. Comey’s dismissal in which Sessions was a direct participant was directly related to the FBI’s ongoing Russia investigation.” That particular contention, that Comey was fired because of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference, was confirmed by Trump himself in a nationally-televised interview with NBC’s Lester Holt; an interview in which Trump all but admitted to obstructing justice.
According to Representatives Conyers and Cummings, Jeff Sessions’ actions merit some serious disciplinary action, including termination. As the Democrats proffered, Sessions certainly broke a federal law “barring Justice Department officials from participating in any investigation that presents a conflict of interest.” And, as if to punctuate their assertion that Sessions is guilty, Conyers and Cummings demanded that Rosenstein answer questions about Sessions’ conduct leading up to his violating two recusal promises.
Those questions include whether Sessions took the time or proper step of consulting with ethics officials regarding his involvement in matters relating to Comey’s firing, and whether Sessions had taken part in any discussions about the Clinton email or Russia investigations; something his meeting with, and letter to, Trump would inform that he certainly did.
The chance that the Deputy Attorney General will be any more law abiding or honest than Sessions or Trump seems slim to non-existent. This is especially true if he joined Trump and Sessions in asking the FBI Director to reveal in advance what his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee would entail. In fact, once one realizes that this entire affair is being run by corrupt and criminal Republicans from the Oval Office to the House to the Senate to the Department of Justice, there is little hope whatsoever that justice will ever be served. If Jeff Sessions was able to blatantly commit perjury under oath before the Senate with impunity and then be rewarded with a cabinet position, no Republican alive is going to hold him accountable for breaking another federal law.