Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from Russia probe
President Donald Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, according to a report in The New York Times.
The meeting is under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team, which is seeking to find out whether Trump has made attempts to obstruct the probe, the Times said. It’s also an indication that Mueller’s obstruction probe into Trump is more extensive than previously thought.
The recusal kept Sessions from overseeing the special counsel’s investigation into possible Russian involvement with the Trump campaign, ceding responsibility to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
At a meeting at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in March 2017, the president berated Sessions for recusing himself and asked him to change his mind, saying he needed a loyalist overseeing the investigation, the Times reported. Sessions refused, the article said.
A representative for the attorney general did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. The special counsel’s office declined to comment, and the White House referred inquiries to the president’s outside counsel.
Later Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that he wished he had picked another person to be attorney general.
….There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!” And I wish I did!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018
Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s attorneys in the Russia probe, told CNBC that Trump still seems frustrated over Sessions for the recusal “because he believes he should not have in the first place.”
Ever since Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, Trump has attacked sessions both in public and in private. The president has frequently taken to Twitter to slam Sessions.
Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Sessions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2018
The Times, citing a source, also reported that Trump, in July, had told his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to convince Sessions to resign. Priebus then informed the attorney general’s chief of staff, who told Priebus that the president himself would have to ask Sessions to quit, which did not end up happening, the report said.
Priebus was out as chief of staff by the end of July, replaced by John Kelly. The Times reported that Mueller’s team wants to ask Trump about his discussions with Priebus regarding Sessions.