Friday, February 24, 2017

CONYERS: The White House Is Not Permitted To Pressure The FBI In This Manner

Ranking Member reacts to reports that Trump Team asked FBI to deny Russia ties

Washington, DC – This evening, CNN reports that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to “knock down” media reports about communications between the Russian government and associates of President Trump.  If these reports are accurate, the White House may have violated Department of Justice policies established in 2007 and 2009 to limit direct communications about pending investigations between the White House and the FBI.

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) today issued the following statement in response:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Tonight’s report should concern all Americans, regardless of party.

“The White House is simply not permitted to pressure the FBI to make public statements about a pending investigation of the President and his advisors.  The Bush and Obama Administrations took steps to limit this sort of back channel communication for the express purpose of protecting the integrity of the Department of Justice and the FBI. This is deeply troubling because of the inappropriate attempt to influence the FBI and because it may reveal a broader effort by the Trump White House to cover up malfeasance during the campaign.  

“A spokesman for the Department suggests that Attorney General Sessions is ‘reviewing’ these guidelines.  The policy seems clear cut to me.  I once again call on the Attorney General to recuse himself from any investigation into the connections between the Trump campaign and the government of Vladimir Putin.  The need for an independent, bipartisan investigation into these matters has never been more clear.

Tomorrow, the Trump Administration will almost certainly attempt to deflect criticism by casting doubt on the officials who brought these communications to the attention of the media.  Again, I ask the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to ensure that whistleblowers within the Department are protected from any kind of retaliation.

“It is past time for House Republicans to engage on this issue.  The Trump team has clear ties to the Russian government—and we ignore those ties at our own peril.”

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