After being chewed out, mocked called “weak” by an angry President Trump for recusing himself from the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has brushed aside ethical concerns and decided not to recuse himself from the investigation into Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.
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Trump had said if he knew Sessions would recuse himself in March 2017 just because he had been involved in his campaign, he would never have appointed him to head the Justice Department.
Having weathered that Trumpian thunderstorm of criticism, Sessions apparently is now doing what his impulsive, partisan bullying boss wants him to do, making the idea of an independent Justice Department a joke.
More ‘dancing on the head of a pin’ by Sessions. This guy does the hokey-pokey like nobody’s business. This “move” tells us, yes, he was aware of the Cohen raid. And, no, he did nothing to alert WH or stop it. This is all job security tactics. https://t.co/U7kUZzb6yK
— JohnWickofPolitics (@Gingrich_of_PA) April 24, 2018
Sessions is now positioned to track the Cohen case for the president, who was boiling mad when his attorney’s office, home, and hotel were raided, and be in the position to influence judgments on future legal matters, even potential indictments.
Sessions will now be entitled to briefings by the U.S. Attorney for the Southen District of New York, who is conducting the case against Cohen, after a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This gives Sessions a highly unethical level of influence over the probe, allowing him to ferry information about the probe to the President and possibly delay, interfere in, or eventually derail the probe entirely.
Since this started with Mueller and is clearly an extension of his investigation, the ethical thing to do would be for Sessions to again recuse himself from the case, but the former Senator from Alabama apparently isn’t about to make Trump angry again.
Getting briefings from the U.S. Attorney means Sessions will be able to share information with the president if he chooses to do so, or is asked to do so by Trump, who had openly condemned the actions against his longtime personal lawyer, friend, and fixer, who has handled details of the Stormy Daniels legal battles, and paid her $130,000 in hush money.
Today’s decision also means, reports Bloomberg News, “Sessions could also weigh in on specific decisions by prosecutors, including whether to pursue subpoenas and indictments.”
Stanley Twardy, a former U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, ow a white-collar criminal defense attorney, said Sessions will now be able to comment on anything that comes before the Justice Department about the case, such as a request for a subpoena.
The law requires recusal from an entire “particular matter”—not just part of it. If these are truly separate investigations, this might be permissible. But if DOJ’s activity related to Cohen is a prong of the Mueller investigation from which Sessions is recused, he *must* recuse. https://t.co/S30OHTKkE1
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) April 24, 2018
There are no hard rules about what Sessions can do, or whether there will be times he should step aside, adds Twardy: “It’s a question of what Sessions has decided to do.”
It’s clear that this move is an effort by Sessions to get back in the president’s good graces by using the powers of his office to geld the probe into Michael Cohen and the President’s hush money cover-up payments to porn stars, though the FBI is also involved and there is a grand jury that can make independent decisions to at least somewhat insulate the probe from politics.
Sessions is due to testify before a Congressional committee tomorrow and Thursday, where he may be asked about his involvement in the Cohen case.
However, the reality is that Sessions has shown again and again that he is a tool of Trumps and now he is wired into the Cohen investigation in a way that will give him a lot of leeways to influence events – with plenty of opportunities to do Trump’s bidding.
Sessions proves himself reliable at one thing: lying. Even though he promised to recuse himself from Trump campaign matters in his confirmation hearing & later when it was proven he lied in said hearing, he now states he's part of the Cohen investigation.https://t.co/y4IYdrLwTW
— Suave Hellion (@HeWhoLovesWords) April 24, 2018
Trump has shown repeatedly that he has no respect for the rules, traditions, and boundaries that separate the White House from the legal system, as James Comey illustrates in detail in his book, “A Higher Loyalty,” so having the spineless Sessions as the fox in the chicken coop is not comforting to those who want to see a fair legal hearing of Cohen.