Sen. Dick Durbin and Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter Tuesday urging Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, to allow Russian hacking investigations to proceed.
The group also pushed Sessions to recuse himself from any future or ongoing FBI or Justice Department investigations into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Sessions appeared before the committee last Tuesday, but was unable to answer questions about a CNN report released the same day that claimed President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump were briefed by intelligence officials on unconfirmed allegations that Russia may have “compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.”
The briefing also included unconfirmed allegations that Trump “surrogates and intermediaries" were in contact with the Russian government throughout the campaign.
“These allegations must be fully investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department, especially in light of the recent assessment by the intelligence community that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered a campaign to influence the outcome of our presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor,” the group wrote.
Trump has denied the allegations, sparring with CNN correspondent Jim Acosta at last Wednesday’s press conference and admonishing his organization for publishing the report. Buzzfeed posted the full dossier of unconfirmed allegations later Tuesday, a move that has drawn considerable criticism.
Trump conceded that he thinks Russia was responsible for the hacking at last Wednesday’s press conference after repeatedly questioning the intelligence community and their findings.
Nevertheless, Trump told the Wall Street Journal Friday that he would be open to lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia if it assists the U.S. with certain efforts, like counterterrorism. That rollback would likely include President Barack Obama’s recently-imposed sanctions for Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things,” Trump said in the interview.