Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the Department of Justice on Tuesday after a letter sent to lawmakers suggested he would consider appointing a new special counsel to investigate several Republican concerns—including the so-called Uranium One deal.
Sessions, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, was grilled by Democratic lawmakers about the letter, implying that the possible investigations into Uranium One and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were being politically influenced by President Donald Trump.
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, asked Sessions a series of questions early in the hearing about the DOJ’s role and if it was proper for it to be influenced by Trump, citing a number of tweets where the president called on the Justice Department to take action against Clinton.
“I have not been improperly influenced and would not be improperly influenced” by the president, Sessions said.
Sessions added: “I would say the Department of Justice can never be used to retaliate politically against opponents, and that would be wrong.”
The questions from Conyers stemmed from a number of tweets Trump has sent out suggesting that federal law enforcement investigate the Uranium One deal and other matters, calling Sessions “beleaguered.”
“Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems….. New Donna B book says she paid for and stole the Dem Primary. What about the deleted E-mails, Uranium, Podesta, the Server, plus, plus……. People are angry. At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper. The American public deserves it!” Trump wrote in a series of tweets.
The Washington Post reported that the justice department is considering a special counsel to investigate many of the matters after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) asked for them to do so.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd responded to the request by saying Sessions had ““directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters” and would consider if “any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”
Asked by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) whether he would appoint a special counsel to investigate Clinton, Sessions said no: “I would say it looks like there’s not enough basis to appoint a special counsel.”