On March 2, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would recuse himself from any involvement in investigations concerning the Trump campaign.
Sessions’ announcement came after he came under scrutiny for falsely claiming that he never met with any Russian officials during the campaign. It was later revealed that he met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on multiple occasions.
“I have now decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States,” Sessions said in a press conference delivered shortly after reports of his conversations with Kislyak leaked out.
Sessions has broken that promise.
Yesterday, he recommended the firing of FBI Director James Comey — the man in charge of the investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Sessions did not explain how recommending the dismissal of the person overseeing an investigation into the Trump campaign was consistent with his recusal from any matter involving the Trump campaign.
Now, Sessions will also reportedly be involved in picking Comey’s replacement. In so doing, he will select the person who will be in charge of the investigation into Trump’s campaign.
NEW: AG Sessions, Deputy AG Rosenstein interviewing candidates for FBI interim director; we can expect someone to be chosen in 24-48 hours.
— ABC News (@ABC) May 10, 2017
AG Sessions, who is supposed to recuse himself from Trump campaign investigations, is going to be interviewing for an acting FBI director
— Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoNPR) May 10, 2017
In a statement, Sen. Al Franken blasted Sessions’ involvement, saying it violated his pledge to recuse himself. (Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Russian officials under questioning from Franken.)
I am also deeply troubled by the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who pledged to recuse himself from the Russia investigation because of his own Russia connections, involved himself in Director Comey’s firing. This is a complete betrayal of his commitment to the public that he wouldn’t be involved in the investigation.”
According to the New York Times, Sessions “had been charged with coming up with reasons to fire [Comey].” Although he was purportedly fired for his mishandling of the Clinton email investigation, multiple reports suggest that was a pretext.
The Wall Street Journal reported, for example, that Trump and his aides were frustrated that Comey would not extinguish concerns about possible campaign collusion with Russia.
Frustration was growing among top associates of the president that Mr. Comey, in a series of appearances before a Senate panel, wouldn’t publicly tamp down questions about possible collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race. A person with knowledge of recent conversations said they wanted Mr. Comey to “say those three little words: ‘There’s no ties.’”
In Trump’s letter to Comey, he referenced the Russia investigation, saying he appreciated that Comey had told him three times he was not a target but was firing him anyway.
UPDATE (1:26 p.m.): Senator Wyden calls on Sessions to resign:
Sessions said he’d recuse himself from anything to do with Russia. It’s clear he did not. Calling for him to resign (again).
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) May 10, 2017