Four Senate Democrats on Friday asked the Department of Justice’s inspector general to open a new probe into any "political interference with the FBI’s investigation into" possible collaboration between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials to upend the 2016 election.
Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Maggie Hassan (D-Del.) specifically asked the watchdog to look into "the provision of resources for the investigation, including efforts by the President and Attorney General to allocate resources based on unsubstantiated claims of wiretapping."
Those are contentious issues given former FBI Director James Comey had sought more access to DOJ prosecutors for the FBI’s Russia probe before Trump fired him, and Trump’s wiretapping charge against President Barack Obama is baseless.
Attorney General Jeff "Sessions is himself recused from the Russia investigation, in part because he provided false testimony in his Senate confirmation hearing regarding his own communications with Russian officials," the Democrats wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO. "Mr. Sessions’ participation in this matter appears wholly inappropriate and raises further concerns of possible political interference."
The Democrats also asked the IG to address whether White House or Department of Justice decisions "fell outside regular protocol or constituted political inference in an ongoing investigation, including whether or not Mr. Comey informed the President ‘on three separate occasions’ that he was not under investigation."
Their letter goes further than a bid by House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday. The Utah Republican had asked Justice’s inspector general to add the firing of Comey to its existing inquiry into the bureau’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which has been open since January.
The Democratic senators are seeking a fresh probe focused specifically on alleged meddling in the FBI’s work by Trump and Sessions. The Democrats tailored their request to spending and resource allocation by the FBI, given their jurisdiction as members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
A spokesman for the department’s inspector general declined to comment on the Democrats’ letter.