Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether President Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice goes beyond his firing of FBI Director and now includes the pressure Trump has put on Attorney General Jeff Sessions since he recused himself from the investigation into the Trump campaign’s involvement in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, reports The New York Times.
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“The special counsel’s interest,” announced the Times, “demonstrates Mr. Sessions’s overlooked role as a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself.”
In interviews with current and former White House officials, Mueller’s investigators have pushed hard for information on Trump’s treatment of Sessions and, says the newspaper, “whether they believe the president was trying to impede the Russia investigation by pressuring him.”
Mueller’s team also interviewed Sessions at length this past January.
High on the list of the four dozen or so questions Mueller wants to ask Trump is whether or not president tried to get Sessions to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation.
In March '17, Trump objected to Sessions' decision 2 days earlier to recuse himself from the Russia probe. Trump berated Sessions, told him he should reverse course.
The confrontation—not previously reported—is being investigated by Mueller, NYT reports.https://t.co/JMCtPNc8Ck
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 29, 2018
Sessions is a Trump loyalist but he has resisted frequent efforts to get him to reverse his recusal because it was done on the advice of Justice Department lawyers after his false statements during his confirmation hearing before the Senate were discovered about his contacts with various Russians before and after the election.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who since April has taken on a lead role in defending the president, insists Trump must not be forced to discuss his private conversations with Sessions, because talking about his private deliberations with senior White House officials would set a terrible precedent for future presidents.
Trump has obsessed on Session’s recusal and believes if he had not done it, the Special Counsel would never have been appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
It has even impacted their once close friendship.
“Before the recusal,” writes the NY Times, “the president and his attorney general were friends, often sharing meals and talking on the phone. Today, they rarely speak outside of cabinet meetings.”
Trump at various times has tried to get rid of Sessions by making him resign, even as he gleefully embraces and enforces Trump’s white supremacist agenda.
The Justice Department has guidelines on recusal that say if the circumstances which warranted it in the first place remain, there is no way to reverse it – which is the case with Sessions.
The guidelines are there to stop political meddling of exactly the sort Trump wants.
“It’s yet more behavior that tramples on the line between law and politics,” Samuel W. Buell, a professor of law at Duke University and former federal prosecutor, told the NY Times.
Trump has repeatedly told intimates that he would never have appointed Sessions as Attorney General if he knew he would recuse himself and he continues to be frustrated by that decision and the resulting appointment of Mueller.
As I told @KateBolduan on @OutFrontCNN, Trump's request to Sessions to take back control of the Russia investigation after his recusal in order to show "loyalty," combined with other evidence, suggests that Mueller will conclude Trump obstructed justice. https://t.co/tOtouo20ee
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) May 30, 2018
This has eaten at Trump since the beginning of his administration and just gets him even hotter under the collar as the Special Counsel gets closer and closer to finding out the truth about Trump, his campaign, and the Russians.
Sessions is loyal to Trump but if put under oath the attorney and Attorney General may have to tell the truth that Trump does not want to get out.
That is what Trump fears and what Americans who want the truth pray will happen when this is all over.