Attorney General Recuses from Trump Investigations
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tonight another member of the Trump administration is backtracking on denials that he met with Russian leaders.
“Let me be clear,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries during the Trump campaign.”
But instead of bowing to pressure from democrats to resign, Sessions has recused himself from any investigations involving the Trump campaign.
“I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States,” Sessions said during a Thursday press conference.
Sessions was responding to allegations that he lied to a Senate panel about conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. The Attorney General was an early supporter of President Trump on the campaign trail. Before Sessions spoke on Thursday, the president signaled support for his attorney general.
“Do you have confidence in the Attorney General?” asked CNN’s Jim Acosta.
“Total,” replied the president.
While many top democrats say recusal isn’t enough, and Sessions must resign, republicans like North Carolina Representative Robert Pittenger are praising the attorney general’s decision.
“Stand up guy,” said Pittenger of Sessions. “Straightforward. I think it was a great statement of integrity to just remove himself from all of that.”
Sessions now admits he did meet with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, but says he did not discuss politics.
During his senate confirmation hearing, Sessions told a different story. One that some are now calling perjury.
“Instead chose to say that he had not met with the Russians and, of course, the ambassador from Russia is a Russian,” said democratic Senator Al Franken.
Democrats sense new vulnerabilities for the administration in the widening intrigue over alleged Russian interference in last year’s presidential race, and investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Investigations that already led to the firing of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Pittenger, and other members of the GOP, have a different view.
“This is a diversion,” said Rep. Pittenger. “It’s a distraction. Let’s don’t deal with policy issues that they can’t win on.”
With Sessions’ decision, oversight of any probe involving Trump’s 2016 campaign would fall to acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente. He was nominated by President Obama for a position in the US Attorney’s office in 2015.
Democrats would prefer the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate questions about Russia.