President Donald Trump directed his White House counsel to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions to not recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The conversation between Don McGahn, the president’s White House counsel, and Sessions took place on the president’s orders and occurred just before the attorney general announced that he would step aside from the ongoing inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction. Two other people confirmed details of the conversation between McGahn and Sessions.
All three people spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press to avoid publicly discussing an ongoing investigation.
The episode is known to special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors and is likely of interest to them as they look into whether Trump’s actions as president, including the May firing of FBI Director James Comey, amount to improper efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation. Investigators recently concluded a round of interviews with current and former White House officials, including McGahn and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
The New York Times first reported that Trump had McGahn lobby Sessions against a recusal.
Reached Thursday evening, Trump personal attorney John Dowd said, “I know nothing about that,” and hung up. Jay Sekulow, another of the president’s personal lawyers, did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.
The White House also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This is a pretty big one. The NY Times corroborates the AP story
President Trump gave firm instructions in March to the White House’s top lawyer: stop the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, from recusing himself in the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s associates had helped a Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election.
Public pressure was building for Mr. Sessions, who had been a senior member of the Trump campaign, to step aside. But the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, carried out the president’s orders and lobbied Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the inquiry, according to two people with knowledge of the episode.
Mr. McGahn was unsuccessful, and the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump said he had expected his top law enforcement official to safeguard him the way he believed Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, had done for his brother John F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. had for Barack Obama.
Mr. Trump then asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s and died in 1986.
The lobbying of Mr. Sessions is one of several previously unreported episodes that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has learned about as he investigates whether Mr. Trump obstructed the F.B.I.’s Russia inquiry. The events occurred during a two-month period — from when Mr. Sessions recused himself in March until the appointment of Mr. Mueller in May — when Mr. Trump believed he was losing control over the investigation.
Trump expected Sessions to protect him from the investigation
. Sessions stepped back and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, appointed Mueller as special counsel. That's obstruction of justice, whether or not it was successful, guys. This is gigantic.
And speaking of recusal and Russia, we now know what Wednesday's meeting between Rosenstein and House Speaker Paul Ryan was about
President Donald Trump's allies in the House for months have demanded documents they insist will point toward political bias against the president. But DOJ and FBI officials have resisted.
On Wednesday, just as it seemed the clash was careening toward a constitutional crisis, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray walked into Ryan's office.
Two sources familiar with the meeting say Wray and Rosenstein, who requested the sitdown, pressed Ryan to narrow the scope of a document request by the House Intelligence Committee. Ryan countered, insisting they turn over the full slate.
Eventually, they struck a deal. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes announced the agreement later that night and said it would include access to all documents and witnesses he had sought. DOJ aides have declined to comment on the deal or Nunes' characterization of it.
The counter-attack on Mueller and Clinton is now confirmed. The FBI is going after the Clinton Foundation and the GOP is going after the FBI. We're entering a full-blown constitutional crisis in 2018, and all bets are off. We now know Trump attempted to have Jeff Sessions stay on to kill the Russia probe. We now know that the DoJ is opening new investigations into political enemies on the order of the man in the Oval Office.
And we know that the GOP in Congress won't only refuse to stop Trump, but that they will openly help him attack his political enemies
More than a year after Republican leaders promised to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election, two influential Republicans on Friday made the first known congressional criminal referral in connection with the meddling — against one of the people who sought to expose it.
Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a senior committee member, told the Justice Department they had reason to believe that a former British spy, Christopher Steele, lied to federal authorities about his contacts with reporters regarding information in the dossier, and they urged the department to investigate. The committee is running one of three congressional investigations into Russian election meddling, and its inquiry has come to focus, in part, on Mr. Steele’s explosive dossier that purported to detail Russia’s interference and the Trump campaign’s complicity.
The decision by Mr. Grassley and Mr. Graham to single out the former intelligence officer behind the dossier — and not anyone who may have taken part in the Russian interference — was certain to infuriate Democrats and raise the stakes in the growing partisan battle over the investigations into Mr. Trump, his campaign team and Russia.
That's right, Grassley and Graham are now recommending criminal investigation into Christopher Steele because of his dossier exposing Trump.
We're quickly getting to the point where rule of law becomes whatever Trump says it is, and the GOP will not save us.
2018 is already shaping up to be one of the most consequential years in American history, and not in a good way. Since the year started five days ago, we now have the DoJ opening new investigations into Clinton and the Clinton Foundation and now the GOP wants to go after the Steele Dossier.
The sitting government is persecuting and prosecuting its political enemies. This is what autocrats, fascists, and dictators do. We are getting close to being under all three at once.