Christopher A. Coons

11/22/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/22/2017 10:17

After Dana Boente’s forced resignation, Sen. Coons requests Judiciary hearing on presidential interference with DOJ, demands answers from AG Sessions, Rosenstein

11.22.17

WASHINGTON - After Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to provide an explanation for the forced resignation of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana Boente, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today requested a Judiciary Committee hearing on potential presidential interference with U.S. Attorney's offices and once again demanded answers from Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

Senator Coons sent a letter to Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein on November 7, 2017 and requested an answer no later than yesterday, November 21, 2017. However, Senator Coons did not receive a response from the Department of Justice. Today, Senator Coons sent two additional letters, one renewing his request to the Justice Department for answers and a second asking the Judiciary Committee for a hearing.

The text of the letters can be found below:

November 22, 2017

The Honorable Charles E. Grassley

Chairman

Committee on the Judiciary

United States Senate

224 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Grassley:

I am writing to request that the Senate Judiciary Committee hold a hearing to examine potential presidential interference with U.S. Attorneys' offices. My request is based on a series of events that leave me concerned that President Trump does not respect the important boundaries between politics and the prosecutorial decisions of U.S. Attorneys within the Department of Justice.

Recently, I sought additional information from the Department of Justice regarding the resignation of U.S. Attorney and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division Dana Boente, but I have not received a response. Mr. Boente has had an impressive career as a federal prosecutor. President Trump's reported demand for his resignation, the sudden nature of its timing, its proximity to the indictments issued by Special Counsel Mueller, and reported connections between the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the investigations of Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, leave me concerned that this resignation was not business as usual.

Mr. Boente's resignation is merely the latest in a series of events that have left me concerned that the President does not comply with norms honoring the independence of the Department of Justice, which is vital to our democratic system of government. From the prior dismissal of 45 U.S. Attorneys without any successors in place, to President Trump's interviews with U.S. Attorney candidates in jurisdictions with oversight of his and his family's businesses, to the President's attempts to cultivate a loyalty relationship with former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara before firing him, I cannot take on faith that this dismissal was normal or justified.

I recognize that U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President, and it is customary to request the resignations of U.S. Attorneys appointed by previous presidents. However, I believe this pattern of events warrants the scrupulous oversight of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I

respectfully request that the Senate Judiciary Committee hold a hearing to examine potential presidential interference with U.S. Attorneys' offices.

Sincerely,

Christopher A. Coons

November 22, 2017

The Honorable Jeff Sessions

Attorney General of the United States

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20530

The Honorable Rod Rosenstein

Deputy Attorney General of the United States

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein:

I am writing, once again, to express my concern regarding reports that U.S. Attorney and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division, Dana Boente, wanted to remain in his position as a federal prosecutor but was forced to resign by President Trump. My November 7, 2017 letter requesting additional information about this matter has gone unanswered.

Attorney General Sessions, as a former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, you understand how important it is for the Department of Justice to respond to congressional inquiries in a timely fashion. In fact, just last month, during your appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, you emphasized your efforts to prioritize responding to all congressional inquiries.

I respectfully reiterate my request for information about why Mr. Boente, who was initially asked to continue serving in his important role, was suddenly forced to resign. Please provide the reason that the President asked for Mr. Boente's resignation and when that request was made as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Christopher A. Coons

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Press Contact

Sean Coit at 202-224-5042 or [email protected]