Attorney General Jeff Sessions was grilled by multiple Representatives during his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Some of the questions posed to him have been reiterated by members of Congress for months as they seek to understand his inaction on several key issues.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), noted that the Department of Justice is an organization meant to be independent, not used as a tool of politics by a sitting president. “It is not appropriate. It’s not appropriate in 2017. It wasn’t appropriate when President Obama did it in the IRS targeting scandal. It wasn’t appropriate when President Obama did it in the ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s server. It is never appropriate for a president to tell a Department of Justice what outcome it would reach. I just wish my friends on the other side of the aisle would have the same kind of outrage when President Obama did it as they do now.”
Rep. Gowdy asked questions regarding former-FBI Director James Comey: “Why did you decide to publicize one investigation but not another? Why did you decide to appropriate a decision away from the Justice Department — which is very unusual for the head of the FBI to serve as both the investigator and the decision maker.”
“I’m not interested in re-litigating the FBI’s decision not to charge Secretary Clinton. That decision’s been made. It’s been explained. And I’m not interested in re-litigating it. I am, however, interested in reviewing 2016 and 2017 with respect to the Department of Justice.”
Mr. Gowdy added, “Mr. Attorney General, there was a time when my colleagues on the other side of the aisle were interested in having some of these questions answered as well.”
His questions come in the face of Americans and members of Congress having lost their trust in the DOJ due to improper investigative measures, bias, conflicts of interest, and seemingly different protocols based on who is in power. From Mr. Comey improperly announcing an investigation to making his decision prior to the completion of the investigation, and much more evidence, it is clear that the DOJ has been mishandled for some time.
“I get — I guess — that certain departments are inherently political, but the Department of Justice should not be,” Rep. Gowdy stated, adding that he and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), “are going to be looking into the decisions made in 2016 and 2017.”
“My motivation is a love for that department, and a love for the concept of blind justice that doesn’t care whether it’s an even-numbered year or an odd-numbered year,” Rep. Gowdy said.
He went on to ask Mr. Sessions how he plans to restore trust in the DOJ given all of the misdeeds.
Sessions replied, “We intend to do our work, according to the established principles of the Department of Justice. We will not be infected by politics or bias. We will only make decisions we believe are right and just. We’re not going to use the department to unlawfully advance a political agenda … I am determined that when the years go by, that people will say this Department of Justice did not crumble.”
The Department of Justice, it is argued, has become politicized to the point it has become ineffective. Do you believe the DOJ needs to be purged of politics?
Perhaps part of that promised objective work will entail intense investigative efforts into the past conduct of the FBI and DOJ. Mr. Sessions, however, has previously admitted his potentially compromised objectivity regarding a Hillary Clinton investigation and said that he would recuse himself from such an investigation.
It is clear that the questions toward Mr. Sessions are far from over. Members of Congress have a lot more unresolved issues with the current and former administrations and the performance of the FBI and DOJ. Bias and conflicts of interest have no place in these departments.