Two leading members of the House Freedom Caucus are calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign. Writing in an op-ed published in the Washington Examiner on Thursday, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), both of whom are notable defenders of President Donald Trump, denounced what they called “manufactured hysteria” over the Russian collusion narrative that has “masked the substantial accomplishments of President Trump’s administration.”
Meadows is the current chairman of the Freedom Caucus, while Jordan is the immediate past chairman. They are complaining that the FBI continues to refuse to provide answers to questions Congress has repeatedly asked about the current Trump-Russia investigation. They also condemned various leaks, apparently from the FBI, to the New York Times and other outlets.
Meadows and Jordan wrote that “in spite of the constant headlines, rampant speculation, and overshadowing of accomplishments, a simple truth remains: There is no evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.” They questioned why the FBI had apparently not interviewed former Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos until January 2017. Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Papadopoulos knew of Russian intelligence on Hillary Clinton, thus playing a role in the opening of an FBI probe in July 2016 into Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.
“If Sessions can’t address this issue immediately, then we have one final question needing an answer: When is it time for a new attorney general? Sadly, it seems the answer is now,” the two Republicans wrote.
On January 3, Rep. Jordan tweeted 18 questions he had for the FBI and the Department of Justice regarding the Russia probe, including whether the FBI had paid for the uncorroborated salacious Trump dossier. Republicans have become increasingly more irritated with the FBI and DOJ. President Donald Trump has also signaled his frustration, tweeting this week about the “Deep State Justice Dept.” Trump rebuked Sessions in July with a tweet suggesting that the attorney general had a “VERY weak position” on leakers. Meadows and Jordan said that the “alarming number of FBI agents and DOJ officials sharing information with reporters is in clear violation of the investigative standards that Americans expect and should demand.”
Jordan and Meadows concluded in their op-ed:
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation early in 2017, but it would appear he has no control at all of the premier law enforcement agency in the world. It is time for Sessions to start managing in a spirit of transparency to bring all of this improper behavior to light and stop further violations. If Sessions can’t address this issue immediately, then we have one final question needing an answer: When is it time for a new attorney general? Sadly, it seems the answer is now.”
In March, both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer called for Sessions to resign. However, Jordan and Meadows are the first Republicans to publicly call for Sessions to step down.
Late meeting: Ryan, Nunes, DOJ and FBI
On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made an unannounced visit to the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). Also present was House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, who had threatened several times in the past of holding Rosenstein and others in contempt should they continue to refuse to produce the documents he has demanded. A conviction on a contempt charge can mean as much as a year in jail. Following the extraordinary meeting, Nunes announced on Wednesday evening that he had reached an accord with the Department of Justice about the outstanding demands for documents and witnesses in the ongoing Russia investigation.
Nunes has been demanding testimony from the FBI and DOJ regarding the supposed involvement of those agencies with the salacious Trump dossier, created by Fusion GPS at the behest of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, that alleges that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Trump. As friction between the bureaucrats and Congress grew, Nunes threatened Wray and Rosenstein with contempt, prompting Rosenstein’s request for a meeting at Speaker Ryan’s office.