By MARY CLARE JALONICK
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Republican House members are calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign as they criticizing his Justice Department for not cooperating with Congress and for leaks related to its Russia investigation
Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio made their views known in an opinion column published Thursday on the Washington Examiner's website. The headline said: "It's time for Jeff Sessions to go."
They write that Sessions "has recused himself from the Russia investigation, but it would appear he has no control at all of the premier law enforcement agency in the world."
A Sessions spokeswoman declined comment.
Sessions, who was part of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, stepped aside last year from the department's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Sessions' deputy, Rod Rosenstein, later appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to take over the probe.
Meadows and Jordan are critical of leaks to The New York Times, which published a story last week based on anonymous sources that the FBI started its original investigation in 2016 as a result of a tip from an Australian diplomat who had spoken to Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. The Times reported that Papadopoulos told the diplomat that Russia had thousands of emails that would embarrass Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Emails from Democratic officials were later leaked by WikiLeaks.
The lawmakers question the story's sources and premise and suggest that Justice Department officials were behind the leak. Meadows and Jordan also criticize the department for not answering questions from Congress in recent months.
"It is time for Sessions to start managing in a spirit of transparency to bring all of this improper behavior to light and stop further violations," Meadows and Jordan said. "If Sessions can't address this issue immediately, then we have one final question needing an answer: When is it time for a new attorney general? Sadly, it seems the answer is now."
Both men have frequently gone after the department and FBI in recent weeks as some Republicans focus on what they contend is perceived bias at the department. Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to divert attention from the Russia investigations.
It's unclear whether other Republican lawmakers feel the same way about Sessions. The office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., referred to his comments from last year on Sessions: "The speaker has said the president gets to decide who serves in the executive branch and his comments stand," spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said Wednesday that the committee has reached an agreement with the Justice Department on witnesses and documents in its probe.
Neither Meadows nor Jordan is on that committee.
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