July 24, 2017

Feinstein Calls for Sessions to Appear Before Judiciary Committee

Washington—In light of reporting on the content of conversations between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today requested that Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) call the attorney general to appear before the committee as soon as possible to answer questions.

Feinstein wrote, “The Judiciary Committee has the primary jurisdiction and responsibility for conducting oversight jurisdiction of the Justice Department. I know you agree that a critical element of such oversight is our ability to ask questions directly of the Attorney General. However, nearly six months have passed since Attorney General Sessions was confirmed, and despite repeated requests from me and other members, he has still not been invited to testify before the committee of primary jurisdiction.”

Text of the letter follows:

July 24, 2017

Honorable Charles E. Grassley
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Mr. Chairman:

This is to request that you invite Attorney General Sessions to appear before our Committee for an oversight hearing as soon as possible.

On Friday, July 21, 2017, the Washington Post reported that the intelligence community intercepted communications of Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak indicating that he and Attorney General Sessions had “substantive” discussions about the policy positions of President Trump during his campaign last year.  If this is true, it would be directly contrary to the testimony that Attorney General Sessions gave – under oath – before the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings.  It would also be directly contrary to public statements made by the Attorney General, as well as his March 6, 2017 letter to the Committee supplementing his testimony, in which he stated:  “I do not recall any discussions with the Russian Ambassador, or any other representative of the Russian government, regarding the political campaign on these occasions or any other occasion.”

This is a serious matter, and the Judiciary Committee must hear directly from the Attorney General.  As the head of the Justice Department, he holds a unique position of trust within our government, is charged with defending the Constitution, and serves as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.  It would be a grave breach of trust if the Attorney General gave false or misleading testimony to this Committee. 

The Judiciary Committee has the primary jurisdiction and responsibility for conducting oversight jurisdiction of the Justice Department.  I know you agree that a critical element of such oversight is our ability to ask questions directly of the Attorney General.  However, nearly six months have passed since Attorney General Sessions was confirmed, and despite repeated requests from me and other members, he has still not been invited to testify before the committee of primary jurisdiction. 

I have requested the intelligence intercepts from Ambassador Kislyak’s transmissions and believe that they raise additional questions about the Attorney General’s discussions concerning Russia during the past year.

I very much appreciate your commitment to strong and unrelenting oversight of the Department of Justice, no matter who is in charge or who sits in the White House.  I respectfully request that you invite Attorney General Sessions to testify before our Committee at the first opportunity in August or September.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein

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