Rep. Ratcliffe’s questioning of AG Sessions confirms need to restore trust in DOJ after Obama-era missteps
WASHINGTON – Rep. John Ratcliffe’s (R-Texas) questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions today confirmed the need to restore trust in the DOJ due to a string of Obama-era missteps.
During the exchange, which occurred under oath during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Sessions confirmed the following in response to Ratcliffe’s questions:
- It would be a “terminatable offense” for the current FBI Director to give a press conference on the status and thought process of an ongoing investigation, and FBI Director Christopher Wray would “never” do this.
- The prosecutors or investigators working under Sessions are not engaging in predetermination of any active cases at the DOJ.
- It “would not be a normal process” for immunized witnesses to sit in on interviews as private counsel during federal investigations with the subject or target of that very same investigation.
Sessions’ answers draw a stark contrast to a number of decisions made by the DOJ under former Attorney General Loretta Lynch that have been called into question.
In response, Ratcliffe said that these circumstances highlight the immense “shadow of doubt” cast over the DOJ during the Obama administration, reaffirming the need to restore the American people’s trust in the agency.
While our country can remain resilient under bad presidencies, Ratcliffe said, it cannot endure the erosion of trust in the DOJ and the FBI to fairly investigate and prosecute violations of the rule of law.
“The Department of Justice must always transcend politics to uphold the rule of law,” Ratcliffe said.
Sessions agreed and said he was committed to leading the DOJ in restoring the trust and confidence that was lost under the previous administration.
“There is danger out there, and we want to fix it,” Sessions said.
Ratcliffe is a former United States Attorney who has led the charge in Congress to highlight and correct the irregularities stemming from the DOJ and FBI’s decisions in 2016.
Earlier this year, Ratcliffe and his colleagues sent two letters to the DOJ calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate outstanding questions relating to DOJ decisions in 2016. (Click here to view the July letter and here to view the September letter).
In response, the DOJ confirmed this week that Sessions directed three senior federal prosecutors to evaluate the lawmakers’ points of concern, and then make their recommendations on whether any matters already under investigation require further resources or the appointment of a special counsel.
In 2016, Ratcliffe’s questioning of Comey under oath revealed troubling disconnects that have prompted calls for further oversight and investigation into how the Clinton email investigation was conducted.
Comey’s answer to Ratcliffe that he made his decision not to recommend charges against Clinton “after” interviewing her is contradicted by more recent reports that an “exoneration memo” was drafted about two months earlier, before 17 key witnesses, including Clinton, were interviewed.