Attorney General Jeff Sessions “has to step up to the plate and do his job” and either give congressional investigators the documents they’ve requested or “get out of the way,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) warned on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“When Jeff Sessions was a senator, he certainly would have said, ‘I want the information,'” said Issa (pictured above), a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary and former chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“Now he needs to be on the other side, saying Congress has an absolute right, the American people have a right. And he needs to lead that or get out of the way. And when I say get out of the way, somebody has to replace him that will do it if he won’t,” he added.
Sessions, the first senator to endorse President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid, stunned the president in March 2017 — just one month after being sworn in as attorney general — when he recused himself from overseeing the investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Sessions’ recusal left Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller to helm the probe in May 2017.
As tensions mounted between the president and his attorney general over the past year and a half, Trump has often criticized Sessions in speeches, during media interviews and on Twitter. Trump said during an interview that aired Thursday on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” that he “put in an attorney general that never took control of” the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Within an hour of Trump’s comments, Sessions offered a rare public response to the criticism, insisting in a statement to the media, “I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in.”
“While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” Sessions added. “I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action.”
But Issa rebuked Sessions for his failure to lead, specifically on lawmakers’ continued demands for failing to provide unredacted copies of subpoenaed documents related to key investigations.
“I think the president has an obligation to make it clear — and I think he’s done that — that Jeff Sessions has to step up to the plate and do his job,” Issa said. “[Trump’s] ordered open and transparent communication — in other words, give Congress the documents they’re asking for in the most unredacted way possible.
“And what [Sessions has] done is allowed the bureaucrats to slow-walk us and give us documents that look like a black cow eating a licorice at midnight — they’re just all black. That’s just unacceptable.
“Understand, the president inherited a system that likes to give no one anything. And I often say that the most highly classified thing there is anywhere in Washington is embarrassment. And so often, it’s what they don’t want you to know because they don’t want you to — they don’t want to be embarrassed.”
Issa told host Maria Bartiromo that “one of the biggest challenges” congressmen face is that “the Constitution gives only one entity the ability to hold people accountable legally, and it happens to be the entity in which all this wrongdoing was going on,” the DOJ.
“So it begs the question of, when will the attorney general engage in an area in which he is not recused, order these documents to be delivered in a timely fashion and begin ordering real investigations leading to criminal prosecutions for false statements and wrongdoing?” he wondered.
Issa also highlighted what he believes is the wrongdoing of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr regarding the Russia probe. Ohr, who has since been demoted, is married to Nellie Ohr, who worked for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm used by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign to obtain the infamous Steele dossier of negative allegations against Trump from sources linked to Russian interests. Bruce Ohr will testify before Issa’s committee this week.
“[Bruce Ohr] knew that [dossier author] Christopher Steele had been dismissed. He knew that the information in that fake dossier shouldn’t go forward. He knew that in fact that he had it go forward,” he said.
Said Issa: “He, of course, also knew that his wife was actively involved in it, and, as an attorney, there are things you disclose or recuse yourself. He did neither, so the questions will be about the things he clearly knew and did wrong.
“He’s been demoted twice, and he’s been demoted for cause, and one of the causes is the clear distortion of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] FISA warrant that led to this entire investigation that now turns out to be false in so many ways.”