Special Counsel Robert Mueller is probing potential obstruction of justice including a March 2017 meeting at Mar-a-Lago during which President Trump allegedly asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from the investigation of Russia’s interference with the presidential election and possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign.
But Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani contended that “‘unrecuse’ doesn’t say, ‘Bury the investigation,’” the New York Times reported the former New York City mayor as saying. “It says on the face of it: Take responsibility for it and handle it correctly.”
Sessions reasserted to the Senate Judiciary Committee last October that he was not involved in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and, citing confidentiality, refused to disclose conversations he may have had with Donald Trump regarding the alleged meddling and the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
“I can neither assert executive privilege neither can I disclose today the contents of my confidential conversations with the President,” Sessions told the committee, calling those communications “the core of executive privilege.”
In June 2017 Sessions called allegations of him colluding with Russian officials to undermine the election an “appalling and detestable lie,” during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in which he also acknowledged that the intelligence community had come to the consensus that Russia did attempt to influence the election.
“I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States,” Sessions said at the time.
He also told the intelligence committee in October that he had recused himself from any investigations into Russian interference into the 2016 U.S. presidential election in March because he felt it was in line with Department of Justice policy to prevent a potential conflict of interest since he was a key foreign policy adviser in the campaign.
Sessions’ recusal ultimately led to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel to head the investigation.
Just hours after the Times report was published, Trump reiterated on Twitter that he wished he had picked someone other than Sessions to lead the Justice Department, referencing statements by House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., that he understood the president’s frustration that Sessions didn’t share “before he took the job” that he would recuse himself and didn’t feel like the president’s actions necessarily translated into obstruction.