Oversight Chairman Asks DOJ Inspector General to Probe Comey Firing

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) discusses a proposed to significantly restrict when police officers can fire their weapons during a news conference Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

WASHINGTON — The GOP chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to expand an existing probe into the FBI’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails to investigate the firing of James Comey.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who recently announced his retirement, sent a letter Wednesday to DOJ IG Michael Horowitz noting the White House account that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “based their recommendation on the Director’s decision to publicize the results of the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year, among other things.”

“I request that you expand the scope of your office’s ongoing review of allegations regarding certain actions by the Department of Justice and the FBI in advance of the 2016 election to include the facts and circumstances surrounding the removal of Director Comey,” Chaffetz wrote. “You stated previously that your work includes an examination of whether Comey’s public communications and notifications to Congress about the Clinton investigation comported with Justice Department and FBI policies and procedures.”

“You separately stated ‘if circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review.’ The recommendation to remove Comey indeed warrants such consideration.”

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), said Wednesday that Congress “needs to have immediate emergency hearings to obtain testimony directly from Attorney General Sessions, the deputy attorney general, and FBI Director Comey.”

“The White House was already covering up for Michael Flynn by refusing to provide a single document to Congress, and now the president fired the one independent person who was doing the most to investigate President Trump and his campaign over allegations of coordination with Russia,” Cummings said in a statement. “It is mindboggling that the Attorney General – who claimed to have recused himself – was directly involved in the decision to fire Director Comey according to the White House itself.”

Cummings added that there’s “now a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department, and President Trump is not being held accountable because House Republicans refuse to work with us to do our job.”

“Congress must restore credibility, accountability, and transparency to this investigation and finally pass legislation to create a truly independent commission,” he said.