Sessions defends Russia investigation recusal while U.S. Attorney General — ‘Hopeful’ investigations underway will tighten up against DoJ political abuses
Now that the race for the Republican nomination in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race is down to two, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, the campaign rhetoric is expected to immediately heat up with just 25 days to go until Republicans head to the polls once again to determine who will face incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) in November.
With just a few days having passed since primary day, Tuberville’s campaign has already taken aim at Sessions for his 2017 recusal from the Department of Justice investigation into alleged collusion between the Russian government and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the attacks from Trump on Sessions since that recusal.
During an appearance on Thursday’s broadcast of Huntsville radio WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Sessions maintained he did what he had to do given his association with Trump’s 2016 campaign as U.S. Attorney General.
“I had to recuse because the law of the Department of Justice explicitly says that if you’re a prosecutor, and I’ve led all the prosecutors, you can’t investigate yourself,” Sessions said. “And it explicitly says you can’t participate in a campaign in a significant role, you can’t investigate the campaign you participated in. It is very clear. It has a specific example about campaigns, and I was national security chairman of the campaign. I introduced and nominated President Trump at the convention. I traveled all over the country with him. I was a leader in his transition team. I introduced him at rallies in every corner of this country. I was the first senator to endorse him. … I was the closest member of the House or Senate to the Trump campaign. So, I just couldn’t do it, lawfully or ethically — I just couldn’t do that.”
“I know it is frustrating to the president,” he added. “But the bottom line is that even though they took an extra-long time and they turned over every rock three times it seemed like — he was cleared. The impeachment charges that came forward didn’t even mention Russia and collusion. I was being investigated, too. Of course, they cleared me, too. I certainly didn’t do any collusion with anybody. It ended as I hoped, but boy it was frustrating and it took a long time. So, I understand the President’s frustration.”
Sessions said despite the allegations, he felt Trump and Republicans were on a path to victory in the November general election.
He did weigh in on the possibility of something like this happening to future presidents, noting he had confidence in current U.S. Attorney General William Barr and an investigation being led by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham.
“What was so bad about this — they leaked on me constantly, that I was talking to some Russian somewhere and I was plotting some scheme,” Sessions said. “I mean, it was just constant. The media was purposefully irresponsible. The investigation had begun, I guess as we now know, in August the summer before the election. I would just say, it is correct that we should not leak these kinds of investigations. They should be done, if at all, undercover or under wraps like every federal investigation is supposed to be done. It’s one of those things where the investigation for a political race is not supposed to be commenced unless you meet a sufficient predicate, basis to justify spying on a campaign. I’m very pleased and very supportive of [U.S. Attorney General] Bill Barr, who said he is going to find out if [former FBI Director James] Comey and the crew that started back last fall had a basis to commence this investigation. He’s got [U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut] John Durham, a man I respect, who I appointed to a special project. He’s looking at that very intensely. He’s not only like an inspector general, but it’s going to be for a grand jury, and he can bring witnesses before the grand jury if he needs to.”
“I’m hopeful this whole experience will tighten the Department of Justice up,” he added. “That was one of my roles and one of my beliefs I should do as attorney general — tighten up against leaks and tighten up against political abuses within the Department.”