WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, last night joined The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the forced resignation of Dana Boente. On November 7, 2017, Senator Coons sent a letter to Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein demanding answers on why Boente was forced to resign. 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 national security division has a central role in law enforcement matters that relate to actions by our adversaries or actions that implicate our intelligence community, and I think it would be easy to conclude why that might be specifically relevant to Russian attempts at interference in our last election or any counterintelligence matters that might be a part of that ongoing investigation. I also want to raise the matter that Dana Boente, the Eastern District of Virginia US Attorney is fourth in line of succession.” 

Audio and video available here.

Excerpts from the interview:

Senator Coons on Boente: Well, I've got real questions, but I don't have a firm answer as to why Dana Boente was pushed. As I laid out in the letter that I sent to the Attorney General, which has gone without a response so far and as I laid out in my letter to the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee asking for a hearing, this fits within a broader troubling pattern of interference with U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and while the president does have the right to ask for US Attorneys’ resignations, he can't do it for an improper purpose, to interfere with an ongoing investigation. And, as you pointed out in the run-up to this segment, there's some very troubling intersections between the ongoing investigation, the announcement of indictments, and, in the case of Papadopoulos, a guilty plea, and the timing of Dana Boente's now-revealed forced resignation. 

More on Boente: It is part of why I'm also concerned. The national security division has a central role in law enforcement matters that relate to actions by our adversaries or actions that implicate our intelligence community, and I think it would be easy to conclude why that might be specifically relevant to Russian attempts at interference in our last election or any counterintelligence matters that might be a part of that ongoing investigation. I also want to raise the matter that Dana Boente, the Eastern District of Virginia US Attorney is fourth in line of succession. So, if there would happen to be a set of circumstances where the Attorney General was recused, the Deputy Attorney General was ordered by the president to do something improper, refused to do so and resigned, Dana Boente would be the third in that line of succession. Those of us who know our Watergate history and the Saturday Night Massacre know that it's possible that there will be a fact pattern where the president orders folks in the senior levels at headquarters at the Department of Justice to do things which they refuse to do. The first person in that line of succession outside of DOJ headquarters is the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney.

More on Boente: Well, it's my hope that the Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to work in a bipartisan way. It is my expectation that we'll have a chance to continue to seek the production of both documents and witnesses in the coming weeks. There are folks who I think should be appearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee because of their incomplete or misleading previous answers, and it's my hope that the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman will agree that these are folks that ought to be in front of us and that getting to the bottom of what's happening with Dana Boente is an appropriate use of committee resources, and protection of the independence of the Department of Justice.            

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