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

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 rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu or 646-292-8316.

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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.americanoversight.org.

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.”