- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Democrats demanded Wednesday that an independent special counsel be appointed to probe the Trump White House and potential ties to Russia, saying Attorney General Jeff Sessions is too tainted to oversee the investigation.

The calls came after President Trump’s national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, admitted to having misled the White House about contacts with Russian officials. Mr. Flynn was ousted from office Monday night, but new reports Tuesday of repeated contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence figures only deepened the mess.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Mr. Sessions, having served as one of President Trump’s biggest boosters during the campaign, must recuse himself. A number of liberal senators went further, saying the only solution is to have an investigator completely separate from Mr. Sessions and the Justice Department.

“To maintain the confidence, credibility and impartiality of the Department of Justice, we urge you to immediately appoint an independent special counsel to investigate collusion with the Russian government by General Flynn and other Trump campaign, transition and administrative officials,” the liberal senators said.

Mr. Schumer called an emergency meeting with his fellow Democrats Wednesday to talk through their demands.

He emerged to say that they agreed Mr. Sessions should recuse himself, they want to make sure all campaign and transition records are preserved, and they demanded Mr. Trump make his top officials available to testify openly on the situation.

The New York Democrat said Mr. Trump poses a challenge to Republicans, who he said must forgo party loyalty and side with Democrats in getting to the bottom of the matter.

“Our security is at risk, our system of checks and balances and rule of law is at risk,” he said.

Mr. Sessions has previously indicated that he saw no need to recuse himself from either a probe of Mr. Flynn’s communications or a broader investigation into Russian hacking.

“I am not aware of a basis to recuse myself from such matters,” Mr. Sessions wrote in a response to a questions posed by Senate Democrats during his confirmation process. “If a specific matter arose where I believed my impartiality might reasonably be questioned, I would consult with Department ethics officials regarding the most appropriate way to proceed.”

A Justice Department spokesman on Wednesday declined to comment on whether Mr. Sessions has reconsidered his stance or had any further discussions about a recusal.

Andrea Noble contributed to this article.

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