Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from any Justice Department investigation into issues related to the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his contacts with the Russian ambassador late a year ago.
"The new Attorney General Jeff Sessions can not be the person to lead that investigation ... it is a clear conflict of interest", Schumer said on the Senate floor, citing Department of Justice regulations.
Was General Flynn directed or authorized to do what he did? The special counsel would also examine any attempts by Flynn and other White House officials to hide any wrongdoing, they said.
Flynn's resignation was preceded by an apology to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for misleading them about his phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. "The revelation of these secret calls by General Flynn arises amidst several serious unresolved questions about ties between this administration and Russian Federation". Neither can the White House counsel, he added, because "Department of Justice regulations specifically prohibit individuals with political ties to the subjects of an investigation from leading that investigation". Who else from the Trump administration, transition or campaign, had contact with the Russians?
"His resignation raises more questions than it answers and the American people deserve the truth", Schumer said at a news conference in the Capitol.
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Democrats have argued that Sessions' role alongside Flynn on the National Security Advisory committee during the transition, his position as senior adviser in the Trump campaign, and his enthusiastic endorsement and nomination of Trump at the Republican National Convention last summer constitute a "political relationship" that would interfere with the integrity of an investigation.
If an investigation is not independent, nonpartisan, and most of all transparent, there is no guarantee this administration will take the decisive and immediate actions necessary to keep our country safe.
But Sessions has previously said he sees no need to recuse himself from any such investigations, and one of his advisers told the New York Times he has not been swayed from his position by recent events. Are there people in the Justice Department, career people, who could do an independent investigation?
Schumer said his watchwords were that the probe be "independent, transparent and impartial".
Those facts and the Department of Justice's own rules disqualify Attorney General Sessions from running this investigation. But Democrats emerged from their meeting emboldened to demand an independent investigation in the legislative and executive branches.