A Department of Justice spokesman denied several claims made by former FBI Director James Comey in a Senate hearing Thursday.
“Given Attorney General Sessions’ participation in President Trump’s campaign, it was for that reason, and that reason alone, the Attorney General made the decision on March 2, 2017 to recuse himself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States,” DOJ spokesman Ian Prior said in a Thursday night statement.
Comey testified during the hearing that there is an undisclosed reason that might’ve been behind the attorney general’s recusal from the investigation into Russian election interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
“We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic,” the former FBI director said.
The statement from the DOJ also pointed to testimony from Comey that he wasn’t aware of “any kind of memorandum issued from the Attorney General or the Department of Justice to the FBI outlining the parameters of [the Attorney General’s] recusal.”
However, Sessions’ chief of staff sent an email on March 2 to Comey and several other officials that said: “After careful consideration following meetings with career Department officials over the course of the past several weeks, the Attorney General has decided to recuse himself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.”
The email continued on to say that Sessions shouldn’t be involved or briefed on those matters and that Acting Attorney General Dana Boente will perform the functions of the attorney general in those investigations.
Comey also testified that when he told Sessions that he should prevent any “future direct communication between the President and me,” the attorney general didn’t reply.
Prior said in his statement, “The Attorney General was not silent; he responded to this comment by saying that the FBI and Department of Justice needed to be careful about following appropriate policies regarding contacts with the White House.”