Trump lobbied for months to have Jeff Sessions take control of the Russia probe - despite Sessions being a key witness in the investigation
Alex Wong/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
- The matter has gained new momentum, as Sessions is a key witness in the probe, which is being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.
- Trump's demands to Sessions may play a key role in Mueller's obstruction-of-justice case against the president.
- Trump previously demanded Sessions's resignation after Mueller was appointed, a development he attributed to Sessions's recusal.
President Donald Trump's repeated attempts to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation adds a potentially new wrinkle to the matter, because Sessions himself is a key witness in the case.
A new report from The New York Times published on Tuesday illustrates how the relationship between Trump and Sessions devolved in the months after Sessions' recusal.
Trump, who publicly berated Sessions for his recusal, reportedly believed he needed an ally in charge of the Russia investigation, The Times reported. Mueller is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election and whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Russia or attempted to obstruct justice.
The president has publicly called Session on numerous occasions:
"Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers," Trump tweeted in June 2017.
Sessions has opted not to reverse his original recusal in the Russia probe, but the interactions between Sessions and Trump - and Trump's public comments - has come to Mueller's attention. According to The Times, Trump's demands to Sessions will likely play a key role in Mueller's obstruction-of-justice case, which became a focal point after he was appointed, following Trump's move to fire FBI director James Comey.
Trump demanded Sessions's resignation after Mueller was appointed in May 2017 because of his decision to recuse himself. Trump reportedly unleashed a bevy of insults against Sessions, calling him an "idiot" and accusing him of being disloyal.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump's top defense attorney in the Russia probe, said that Trump's desire for Sessions to oversee the investigation was appropriate.
"'Unrecuse' doesn't say, "Bury the investigation," Giuliani to the Times. "It says on the face of it: Take responsibility for it and handle it correctly."
Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe on March 2, after he was discovered to have met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US at the time, during the presidential election. His meetings with Kislyak contradicted his testimony during his Senate confirmation hearing, where he said he did not have contacts with Russians during the campaign.
The attorney general reasoned that because he was a member of Trump's campaign, he was obligated to recuse himself from the Justice Department's investigation into potential collusion with Russia.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
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