Thursday, March 2, 2017

Atty. Gen. Sessions says he will step aside from Russia investigation

Atty. Gen. Sessions says he will step aside from Russia investigation

 (Jim LoScalzo / TNS)
(Jim LoScalzo / TNS)
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions will step aside from any further involvement in the investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election, he announced at a news conference Thursday.
The announcement came after a day of mounting calls from fellow Republicans for Sessions to recuse himself from any role in the investigation. Those calls began when news broke that Sessions had failed to disclose contacts during the campaign year with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
During his confirmation hearing earlier this year, Sessions said he had not had meetings with Russian officials. In fact, he had at least two conversations with the ambassador.

Sessions defended his meeting with Kislyak, saying the two had not discussed campaign-related issues.
"I don't recall any specific political discussions," he told reporters, describing his conversations with Kislyak.
In the news conference, Sessions said that even before the news of his meetings with Kislyak became public, he had consulted with career Justice Department officials and had planned to make a decision today on whether to recuse himself.
"I asked for their candid and honest opinion about what I should do," he said. "My staff recommended recusal."

The officials he consulted "said that since I had involvement in the campaign, I should not have any involvement" in any investigation of campaign-related matters.
"I believe those recommendations are right and just ... therefore I have recused myself," he said.
Future decisions related to the investigation will be in the hands of the department's acting deputy Attorney general Dana J. Boente, a career prosecutor who was appointed to that job a few days after President Trump's inauguration.
Earlier in the day, Trump said he did not think Sessions should recuse himself, but Sessions said that a close examination of the Justice department's rules showed he had little choice.
"When you evaluate the rules," he said, it's clear that "I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in."
Sessions noted that his statement should not be taken as confirming the existence of any specific investigation.
Other officials have confirmed that the FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been examining Russia's role in the 2016 campaign and have also been looking at possible contacts between people close to Trump and Russian officials.

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