The Russian Connection: Session’s Non-Recusal Recusal

After having to admit that he had contact the Russian Ambassador to the US during the Trump campaign, The US Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III recused himself from any investigation into charges that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. He issued the following statement on March 2, 2017:

“During the course of the confirmation proceedings on my nomination to be Attorney General, I advised the Senate Judiciary Committee that ‘[i]f 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.”

He hasn’t lived up to that promise. As a matter of fact, he has broken it several times in the last year, the latest breach of promise was yesterday when he appointed Utah US Attorney to investigate FBI conduct of the Trump Russian investigation i.e. the FBI handling of the investigations of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, her e-mail server, the GPS Fusion dossier and the Carter Page warrants issued by FISA.

In a letter to senior Republican lawmakers, Sessions said that in November, he named U.S. Attorney John Huber — unanimously confirmed to lead the Justice Department’s Utah district under President Barack Obama and again under President Donald Trump — to partner with the Justice Department’s inspector general in the inquiry.

The move adds legal muscle to an internal investigation being run by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is nearing the release of an extensive report on the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. [..]

“Mr. Huber is conducting his work from outside the Washington D.C. area and in cooperation with the inspector general,” Sessions wrote on Thursday. “I am confident that Mr. Huber’s review will include a full, complete and objective evaluation of these matters in a manner that is consistent with the law and the facts.”

Sessions said he had been getting regular updates from Huber and would receive recommendations from him on whether any new investigations should be opened or current investigations should be reinforced — or whether he would revisit the discussion of appointing a special counsel.

The attorney general also noted Horowitz’s recent decision to open a new inquiry into allegations by Republicans that the FBI misused a surveillance program to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser. Sessions noted that he had asked Horowitz to pursue the matter, among others raised by Republicans in repeated letters over the past year.

As Republican lawmakers have battered the Justice Department to take action, congressional Democrats say the GOP is kicking up dust to distract from a widening and increasingly perilous investigation of Trump campaign contacts with Russia. They have warned that any move by the Justice Department to accommodate these demands would be a subversion of the justice system. Most recently, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Horowitz’s decision to examine potential surveillance was the result of a pressure campaign by Republicans to look into a “conspiracy theory.”

“Any objective review of these claims should tell us what we already know — that the FBI was right, that there was sufficient evidence to continue investigating certain Trump campaign officials for their connections to the Russian government, and that the Republicans are desperate to distract from that investigation,” Nadler said.

But as MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explains, Sessions is violating his recusal “from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.

First, Maddow noted that the firings of former FBI director James Comey and former deputy assistant director Andrew McCabe did have something to do with the Russia investigation. In the case of Comey, President Donald Trump revealed his true motivations to NBC’s Lester Holt. McCabe was conducting an investigation into Sessions for the firing of Comey when he was fired.

Second, it was revealed Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller is now looking into two key Republicans, Trump’s former deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn and former Trump campaign policy director John Mashburn. The only place that Mashburn’s name has popped up, according to Maddow, is when it came to a strange incident at the Republican National Convention. It isn’t clear whether it was Mashburn or any other prominent member of the Republican National Committee, who demanded the party’s platform take a lighter stance against Russia in the battle for Ukraine. Mueller’s court documents detailed that he’s asking the two men specifically about the RNC. [..]

“Mueller’s team has been asking about a convention-related event attended by both Russia’s U.S. ambassador and Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to support Trump and now his attorney general, said one source, who requested anonymity due to the ongoing investigation,” Reuters reported Thursday. [..]

“If this new reporting is correct, this means a couple things,” Maddow began. “First, and most importantly, it means that in current inquiries by the special counsel’s office, what they are asking witnesses about now is about the central matter under investigation. It’s not just obstruction of justice. They are asking about the question of contacts with and potentially collusion with Russia.” [..]

“Anybody will be alarmed by these reports about what Mueller is asking witnesses about now,” she continued. “Hey! That’s the attorney general you’re talking about there! The currently serving attorney general of the United States is the subject of active inquiries in the Mueller investigation on multiple fronts while he’s serving as attorney general which involves him setting up multiple inquiries and whether or not the FBI should have been investigating the Russia matter at all and whether they have been too bias in favor of Hillary Clinton. He’s the subject of inquiries by the Mueller investigation, meanwhile sicking these two investigators on the Russia investigation? This is a rat’s nest, and boy, does that recusal seem to be sagging under its weight these days.”


It appears that Sessions is now trying to obstruct Mueller’s investigation into his involvement with the Russians, as well as, Trump’s and his family.