Update: Brian Benczkowski has been confirmed. Trump’s pick to lead the DOJ’s criminal division served on Trump’s transition team and also represented the Russian bank implicated in the Steele dossier, and many fear he could provide a back channel to Trump on Mueller’s investigation.
Update: Brian Benczkowski has been confirmed. Collins voted yes, and King voted no.
Trump has nominated Brian Benczkowski, a lawyer without prosecutorial experience who served on Trump’s transition team and also represented Russia’s Alfa Bank, to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division. The bank has come under scrutiny in the probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election after being named in the Steele dossier alleging ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials and for its connections with Vladimir Putin. The disclosure of ties to Alfa Bank prompted some Democrats to call on Benczkowski to recuse himself from the DOJ investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 elections, while others flat-out rejected his nomination. When asked by the Judiciary Committee if he would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he answered: “I cannot commit to such a recusal at this time.” A group of Democratic lawmakers lead by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) called on Trump to withdraw his nomination in a letter sent in May. While Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein (who supports the nomination) would still oversee Mueller’s investigation, lawmakers fear Benczkowski’s appointment could offer someone with ties to the Trump campaign and the powerful Russian bank a window into Mueller’s work and a potential back channel to Trump, who has already declared open war on the investigation.
Call your Senators and urge them to OPPOSE the nomination of Brian Benczkowski. Tell them that until they pass legislation to protect Mueller’s investigation from interference, a nominee with any ties to Russia or to Trump’s campaign is too great a risk to take.