Democracy 21 filed a complaint today against Attorney General Jeff Sessions with the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR):

for violating both his public commitment to recuse himself “from any matters arising from the campaigns for President of the United States,” and for violating a Department of Justice (DOJ) regulation that requires his recusal from any participation in the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“The complaint arises from the Attorney General’s direct participation in the firing of FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017, in violation of his recusal commitment and the Justice Department recusal regulation,” according to the letter.  The complaint also arises from the fact that the Attorney General is reportedly interviewing candidates to serve as interim FBI Director.

Democracy 21 also sent a letter today to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that urged him:

to appoint a Special Counsel to oversee the Russia investigation and to take the steps necessary to ensure that Attorney General Sessions, consistent with his recusal commitment and with the applicable Department recusal requirement, does not play any role in selecting an interim or permanent Director of the FBI.

Democracy 21 had previously filed two complaints with OPR on February 27, 2017 and March 2, 2017, stating that Attorney General Sessions had violated the applicable DOJ recusal regulation by failing to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

On March 2, 2017, the Attorney General issued a statement through the DOJ Office of Public Affairs and said that he would recuse himself “from any matters arising from the campaigns for President of the United States.”

Until he was fired on May 9, Director Comey was leading an FBI investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether there was any collusion between Russian actors and the Trump presidential campaign and Trump associates.

According to the six-page complaint:

The recommendation that Attorney General Sessions made to President Trump to fire FBI Director Comey related to a matter “arising from the campaigns for President of the United States,” because it involved firing the person leading the FBI investigation into alleged interference in the 2016 presidential campaigns.  The Attorney General’s participation in the firing of Director Comey therefore was squarely within the scope of his recusal commitment and violated that commitment.

The Attorney General’s recommendation to fire Director Comey also violated the applicable DOJ recusal regulation in light of the Attorney General’s personal involvement in the Trump presidential campaign and the fact that he is a potential subject of the Russia investigation.

Furthermore the Attorney General’s reported current participation in the naming of an interim FBI Director who will take charge of the Russia investigation violates both his recusal commitment and the DOJ recusal regulation. The Attorney General is similarly prohibited from any participation in selecting a new permanent Director for the FBI.

The Justice Department complaint explained how the “Attorney General’s direct participation in the firing of Director Comey violated his commitment to recuse himself ‘from any matters arising from the campaigns for President of the United States.’”

The complaint also documented that the “the Attorney General’s direct participation in the firing of Director Comey violated his recusal obligation as required by a Department of Justice regulation.”

The complaint also explained why Sessions’ participation in seeking an interim FBI Director as well as any participation in seeking a permanent Director violated both his own recusal commitment and the Justice Department’s recusal regulation.

The complaint called on the Office of Professional Responsibility to take a number of steps:

We call on the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to investigate these matters, make public findings and take all appropriate steps to hold Attorney General Sessions accountable for his violations of the Department’s recusal regulation, and for his failure to comply with the recusal commitments he has made.

We also call on OPR to take all necessary steps to ensure that Attorney General Sessions complies with his personal recusal commitment and with the DOJ recusal regulation by not participating in the Russia investigation in any way.

Most immediately, we call on OPR to take all necessary steps to ensure that the Attorney General withdraws from any participation in the selection of a new interim or permanent Director of the FBI.

The complaint concluded:

As we stated in our March 2 letter, the integrity and public credibility of the Justice Department is at stake.

Attachments: (2 total)