Skip Navigation

Groups Urge DOJ Inspector General to Investigate Senior Officials’ Possible Misconduct in Comey Firing

The Brennan Center joined the Center for American Progress, along with American Oversight, on a letter to the DOJ Inspector General asking him to investigate possible abuse and misconduct.

May 31, 2017

Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — Concerned by the nature of the involve­ment of the attor­ney general and deputy attor­ney general in the termin­a­tion of FBI Director James Comey, the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Center for Amer­ican Progress,  Amer­ican Over­sight, and Professor Kath­leen Clark sent a letter today to Michael E. Horow­itz, inspector general of the U.S. Depart­ment of Justice (DOJ), urging that the DOJ Office of the Inspector General begin an invest­ig­a­tion into possible abuse and miscon­duct by senior DOJ offi­cials in connec­tion with Comey’s firing.

“There are a number of unanswered ques­tions about the role senior Depart­ment of Justice offi­cials played in the firing of James Comey,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Bren­nan Center’s Demo­cracy Program. “A public invest­ig­a­tion led by the nonpar­tisan inspector general is key to getting to those answers. A demo­cracy guided by account­ab­il­ity and the rule of law demands noth­ing less.”

“The beha­vior of senior DOJ offi­cials raises real ques­tions,” said Liz Kennedy, director of demo­cracy and govern­ment reform at the Center for Amer­ican Progress. “Attor­ney General Jeff Sessions recom­men­ded that Pres­id­ent Donald Trump fire Comey despite having recused himself from invest­ig­a­tions into the pres­id­ent’s campaign due to concerns about his own contacts with Russian offi­cials. Sessions did not disclose his Russian contacts to the FBI during his back­ground invest­ig­a­tion for his secur­ity clear­ance and also lied about those same contacts to the Senate. The attor­ney gener­al’s role in the ongo­ing inquiry into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia must be invest­ig­ated.”

“The DOJ’s stated rationale in firing Director Comey creates more ques­tions than it answers and raises seri­ous concerns that the attor­ney general and deputy attor­ney general were involved in an attempt to thwart an ongo­ing invest­ig­a­tion into the pres­id­ent’s asso­ci­ates,” said Austin Evers, exec­ut­ive director of Amer­ican Over­sight. “The inspector general needs to fully invest­ig­ate the DOJ’s role in the Comey firing—the cred­ib­il­ity of the admin­is­tra­tion and our demo­cratic insti­tu­tions is at stake.”

“While the special coun­sel has an import­ant role to play in invest­ig­at­ing possible crim­inal viol­a­tions, the role of the DOJ inspector general is to determ­ine whether senior DOJ offi­cials engaged in miscon­duct or abuse of power,” said Professor Kath­leen Clark of the Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity School of Law. “It is import­ant that the inspector general invest­ig­ate whether any DOJ offi­cials viol­ated the depart­ment’s policies in the firing of Director Comey.”

Click here to access the full letter. Experts from all organ­iz­a­tions are avail­able to speak more on this topic. To reach an expert at the Bren­nan Center, please contact Rebecca Autrey at or 646–292–8316.


The Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpar­tisan law and policy insti­tute that seeks to improve our systems of demo­cracy and justice. We work to hold our polit­ical insti­tu­tions and laws account­able to the twin Amer­ican ideals of demo­cracy and equal justice for all. The Center’s work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from ending mass incar­cer­a­tion to preserving Consti­tu­tional protec­tion in the fight against terror­ism. Part think tank, part advocacy group, part cutting-edge commu­nic­a­tions hub, we start with rigor­ous research. We craft innov­at­ive policies. And we fight for them — in Congress and the states, the courts, and in the court of public opin­ion.

Amer­ican Over­sight is a non-partisan, nonprofit ethics watch­dog commit­ted to hold­ing the govern­ment account­able. With congres­sional over­sight lack­ing, Amer­ican Over­sight is step­ping in to uncover and publi­cize inform­a­tion about malfeas­ance and corrup­tion by admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials. Follow us at @weareover­sight and learn more at http://www.amer­ican­over­

The Center for Amer­ican Progress is a nonpar­tisan research and educa­tional insti­tute dedic­ated to promot­ing a strong, just and free Amer­ica that ensures oppor­tun­ity for all. We believe that Amer­ic­ans are bound together by a common commit­ment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progress­ive and prag­matic solu­tions to signi­fic­ant domestic and inter­na­tional prob­lems and develop policy propos­als that foster a govern­ment that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”