Trump’s Republican allies in Congress introduced a new tactic on Thursday, as Reps. Mark Meadows (R-SC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote an op-ed in the Washington Examiner calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign.
The op-ed is yet another effort, albeit indirect, to attack Special Counsel Mueller’s probe. If Sessions resigned, his replacement would likely not have to recuse himself from the investigation into the Trump campaign as Sessions did. This replacement would be able to shut down the Mueller probe — a dramatic and unprecedented move that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has thus far refused to do.
The article — titled “It’s time for Jeff Sessions to go, as shown by the latest FBI leak” — laments that “manufactured hysteria” on allegations of Russian collusion has “frequently masked the substantial accomplishments of President Trump’s administration.” They assert that despite “zero (yes, zero) evidence of collusion” there have been six investigations into Russian collusion, “more than the investigative efforts on former President Barack Obama’s IRS targeting of conservatives, the 30,000 missing Hillary Clinton emails, and Benghazi.”
In fact, there were at least eight investigations into Benghazi alone, including the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which inlcuded Meadows as a member and author of a comprehensive report which found no new evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton. And as no investigation has concluded or released findings in the months they have been active, it’s extremely premature to assert that there is no evidence of collusion.
They attack recent leaks from the FBI about the investigation and specifically a recent New York Times article tracing the origin of the FBI’s Russia investigation. They ask when the leaks will stop, and conclude that Sessions “has no control at all of the premier law enforcement agency in the world” and that he should “bring all improper behavior to light.” Even after this call to get the department under control, they still conclude he should leave now:
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.
The special counsel’s investigation via the FBI and Justice Department has resulted in four former Trump aides being charged with crimes, including a campaign chairman and a national security adviser. Several are cooperating with investigators, and additional charges are very possible. There are also at least three congressional investigations, all of which have faced staffing challenges and premature calls from Republicans to wrap up.
Meadows and Jordan are the current chair and former chair, respectively, of the House Freedom Caucus, a hardline conservative group which has had a volatile relationship with Trump. Recently, they have allied themselves with the White House.
In December, Jordan admitted he has talked to the White House about the Mueller investigation. He also secured a commitment from House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to subpoena top FBI and Justice Department employees in a hunt for any bias against Trump at the agency. Fox News suggested that the FBI’s investigation was a “coup” against Trump. And a group of congressmen including Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Louis Gohmert (R-TX), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) announced that same month that they had asked the FBI to investigate its own treatment of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.
Last June, Trump called for arbitrary prosecutions of his political opponents on Twitter.
Last February, the White House enlisted Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) to challenge the Russia narrative with members of the media.
Nunes, after a public attempt to shift blame to the Obama administration, was ultimately forced to step aside in the Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation after a secret trip he took to the White House to view classified documents surfaced.