In a speech Friday afternoon in Norfolk, Virginia, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed recent criticisms of the Justice Department and vowed to defend his department from any “unfair” critiques and root out any bias he finds among the department’s staffers.
The comments come as the Justice Department and FBI face an effort from GOP lawmakers in Congress to undermine the investigations into President Donald Trump’s campaign and transition team. Republicans have alleged bias among the FBI officials investigating Trump and claimed that the FBI abused a surveillance program while carrying out that investigation.
Sessions said that one of his goals as attorney general is “eliminating political bias or favoritism – in either direction – from our investigations and prosecutions,” according to his prepared remarks.
“That sort of thinking is the antithesis of what the Department stands for, and I won’t tolerate it,” he said.
The attorney general said he would identify “mistakes of the past” and correct them “for the future.”
“When we find problems, we’re addressing them head on, not sweeping them under the rug. Much of what we are doing is behind the scenes, but some of it is squarely in the public view,” Sessions said in his prepared remarks.
Despite Sessions’ apparent acknowledgement of bias within the Justice Department, a claim that has not been proven, he said that his department would “defend our investigators and prosecutors from criticism that is unfair.”
“Our goal is justice. All our work is subject to review with certain restraints. We will not reject justified review. Our work requires constant improvement and adjustment, but it must always be founded on integrity and law,” he said in his prepared remarks.
Sessions also called for Congress to be “a partner in this effort.”
“When they learn of a problem and start asking questions, that is a good thing. Sunlight truly is the best disinfectant. Truth produces confidence,” he said.
A memo crafted by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee purports to show that the FBI misled a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court judge by failing to mention that one of its sources for a surveillance application, Trump dossier author Christopher Steele, was being paid by Democrats for his research. (It does not appear that the FBI relied solely on Steele’s information for the FISA warrant application.)
House Republicans have not permitted the Justice Department to view the anti-FBI memo despite calls from the department to view the memo.