American Oversight used the Freedom of Information Act to secure documents that revealed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed to open an investigation into Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
NEW: Jeff Sessions caved to Trump's authoritarian demands. We obtained the signed directive from Sessions to a federal prosecutor ordering a wide-ranging investigation of Hillary Clinton. https://t.co/whiwbVudOm pic.twitter.com/1KGGrMIunG
— American Oversight (@weareoversight) March 9, 2019
According to the documents, the Republican-led Judiciary Committee and Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd consulted with Sessions on reviewing accusations against the Clinton. In a Nov. 13, 2017 letter to U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah John Huber, Sessions “requested that you review the matters referenced in the enclosed.”
“Your recommendations should include whether any matters not currently under investigation warrants the opening of an investigation, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources or further investigation, and whether any matters would merit the appointment of a Special Counsel,” the letter said.
It appears Huber never found anything that warranted an investigation, or presumably, the GOP would have hauled the Clintons back into another hearing.
Trump continues to attack Sessions for recusing himself from any investigations into the Trump campaign and the Clintons. Indeed, Sessions addressed the Clinton emails and “other matters from the Clinton Foundation” during his confirmation hearing before Congress. It’s for this reason Sessions sent the information to someone outside of his office.
“On November 13, 2017, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote to former House Judiciary Committee Chair Robert Goodlatte informing him that Sessions had directed ‘senior federal prosecutors’ to evaluate issues the congressman had raised in previous letters,” wrote American Oversight. “Goodlatte had written to Sessions calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate Clinton, the Uranium One sale, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s handling of the inquiry into Clinton’s use of a private email server.”
Trump continues to rant against Clinton, saying that she conspired with Russia, though he hasn’t specifically cited the Uranium One sale. PolitFact rates the conspiracy theory surrounding the issue as “mostly false,” though that hasn’t stopped the president’s allies from pushing the conspiracy.
“In November 2018, DOJ filed a motion for summary judgment in the ongoing litigation, asserting that no records of any written directives existed,” the site said. “In support of that motion, DOJ submitted a sworn declaration claiming that officials with direct knowledge of the situation — including both Huber and Whitaker — had stated there were no written directives and that all instructions to Huber had been delivered orally in meetings or small discussions.”
The information was an outright lie to the court, that has finally been uncovered, but not because of a ruling. Just two days before acting-Attorney General Matthew Whitaker left and Bill Barr took over, the documents were “found.”
“It strains credulity to believe that the Justice Department didn’t know about this letter when they swore under penalty of perjury that it didn’t exist — you don’t exactly forget about a formal directive to investigate Hillary Clinton signed by Jeff Sessions,” said American Oversight executive director Austin Evers. “The fact that they only ‘found’ it the same week Matthew Whitaker was heading for the exit makes it hard to see DOJ’s previous denial as anything but a deliberate attempt to conceal the extent to which President Trump’s authoritarian demands were being put into action.”
American Oversight was able to obtain the documents by suing the Department of Justice in 2017 and they were finally awarded them this week.
You can see a video of Sessions recusing himself below: