U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions bows out of Russia investigation over contact with ambassador
Sunday, March 5, 2017
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday recused himself from any investigation of Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race but reserved the right to make decisions "on a case-by-case basis" about other issues involving Russian hacking.
|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|
—U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions
"I have decided," Sessions told the press, "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."
During his confirmation hearing on January 10, Sessions was asked about contact between the Russian government and now-President Donald Trump's campaign. He responded, "I did not have communications with the Russians." However, he met twice with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, whom the U.S. Justice Department considers a spy. A spokesperson for Sessions said those meetings, like meetings he had with other ambassadors, were in his capacity as a Senator and member of the Armed Services Committee and not as a member of the Trump campaign, which is why he feels his answer was not truly misleading.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called for Sessions to resign entirely. Democrats want a special prosecutor to investigate the Russians' role in the election, but there are not enough of them in Congress to force this. Sessions' statement delegated his duties to his acting deputy, Dana Boente.
"Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional [...]" said President Trump in an official statement defending Sessions. "[The Democrats] lost the election and now, they have lost their grip on reality. The real story is all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information. It is a total witch hunt!"
|Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional|
—President Donald J. Trump
Although Sessions has recused himself from any such investigation, it was not disclosed to the public whether the Justice Department is, in fact, conducting one. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has done some exploration and House Intelligence Committee has commissioned an inquiry, but Sessions' statement reads "This announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation."
Earlier this year, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned, also over concerns of impropriety related to contact with the Russian ambassador.
- "Michael Flynn resigns as National Security Advisor to Trump administration" — Wikinews, February 15, 2017
- "U.S. responds to Russian election hacking with expulsions, sanctions" — Wikinews, December 31, 2016
- Stephen Collinson and Laura Smith-Spark. "Trump: Sessions 'did not say anything wrong'" — CNN, March 3, 2017
- Mark Landler and Eric Lichtblau. "Jeff Sessions Recuses Himself From Russia Inquiry" — The New York Times, March 2, 2017