Friday, March 3, 2017 8:43 am
U.S. Attorney-General Jeff Sessions has bowed to intense political pressure and recused himself from any investigation related to President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Sessions made the decision after it emerged that he had failed at his Senate confirmation hearing to disclose two pre-election meetings with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
The Attorney-General’s recusal came at a time when Russia was accused of interfering in the presidential race against Trump’s arch-rival at the Nov. 8, 2016 presidential election, Democratic Hillary Clinton.
Sessions, in a statement he issued and read at a live news conference, recalled his advice during the course of the confirmation proceedings on his nomination to be Attorney General.
“I advised the Senate Judiciary Committee that ‘if a specific matter arose where I believed my impartiality might reasonably be questioned, I would consult with Department ethics officials regarding the most appropriate way to proceed’.
“During the course of the last several weeks, I have met with the relevant senior career Department officials to discuss whether I should recuse myself from any matters arising from the campaigns for President of the United States.
“Having concluded those meetings today, 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.
“I have taken no actions regarding any such matters, to the extent they exist.
“This announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation.
“Consistent with the succession order for the Department of Justice, Acting Deputy Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana Boente shall act.
“As and perform the functions of the Attorney General with respect to any matters from which I have recused myself to the extent they exist,” Sessions said.
However, U.S. President Donald Trump has said that the scandal plaguing his Attorney-General over contacts with Russian Ambassador ” is a witch-hunt”.
Trump, in a statement on Thursday after Sessions announcement recusing himself from any investigation concerning the contact, blamed Democrats for blowing up the controversy for political reasons.
The President, however, said Sessions could have been more accurate in what he said about his contacts with Russian officials.
“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.
“This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win.
“The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They 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!,” Trump said in the statement.