Elements of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI are under fire Friday following the release of the House Intelligence Committee’s hotly anticipated memo alleging bias and misconduct among officials investigating Trump campaign associates.
DOJ made its first public response to the developing controversy over the memo in the form of a sparse statement from the Attorney General about two hours after the memo hit the web.
“Congress has made inquiries concerning an issue of great importance for the country and concerns have been raised about the Department’s performance. I have great confidence in the men and women of this Department. But no Department is perfect,” Sessions told the press.
The attorney general then expressed a general commitment to cooperate with Congress on getting to the bottom of the memo’s allegations. “Accordingly, I will forward to appropriate DOJ components all information I receive from Congress regarding this. I am determined that we will fully and fairly ascertain the truth,” he said. “We work for the American people and are accountable to them and those they have elected. We will meet that responsibility.”
The statement’s measured response was in contrast to an outpouring of anger from the political right over the memo’s allegations of misconduct and political bias, especially against DOJ number two and, on account of Sessions’s recusal, head overseer of all investigations concerning the 2016 presidential election, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Conservative group Tea Party Patriots, for example, marked the memo’s release with a YouTube video calling for Rosenstein to “do his job or resign.”
The call was echoed among right-leaning pundits on Twitter:
Rosenstein should be fired for opposing the release of this memo.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) February 2, 2018
Memo shows FISA court was misled by Comey, McCabe, Yates, and Rosenstein. Will Rosenstein be fired? Will he have to recuse himself, in the least? @RealDonaldTrump may have to act.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) February 2, 2018
Last week, Sessions, the man who picked Rosenstein, appeared to address what it can now be inferred were the allegations in the memo, when he went far beyond his prepared remarks at what was supposed to be an address on immigration policy. At the time, Sessions gave a strong appeal to stick with established procedure and not get ahead of the law. He said at the time:
This is the system. It’s part of the process. We’re going to work our way through. We don’t see criticism from Congress as necessarily a bad thing. We welcome Congress as a partner in our effort to get better. When they learn of a problem and start asking questions – well that’s just a good thing. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Sessions then also expressed his support for “absolutely eliminating political bias or favoritism in either direction from our investigations and our prosecutions.”
“That sort of thinking is the antithesis of what our department stands for,” he said. “We will not tolerate it.”