- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions declined to say Wednesday if he has recused himself from the investigation into President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.

“The best answer for me to say is that I should not announce that” Mr. Sessions told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, asked the attorney general about media reports surfacing Tuesday that he would not recuse himself from the Cohen investigation, despite removing himself from the Russia investigation.

The senator said Department of Justice regulations require recusal for anyone who has a political relationship with someone who is either a subject of or has an interest in an investigation.

Mr. Sessions, a Trump appointee, confirmed the policy, but refused to say if that meant he should recuse himself from the Cohen probe.

“It is the policy of the Department of Justice that those who recuse themselves not state the details of it or confirm the existence of an investigation or the scope or nature of the investigation,” he responded.

“Recusals happen all the time in the department and are not made public, but they are binding, Mr. Sessions continued.

Mr. Sessions also expressed his support for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has drawn the president’s ire because of his role overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“[Mr. Rosenstein] works every day to do the job he’s called upon to do,” Mr. Sessions said responding a question from Sen. Lindsay Graham, South Carolina Republican. “I have confidence in him.”

“I do, too,” Mr. Graham responded.

Mr. Leahy later pressed him on whether he would resign if Mr. Trump fired special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, both of whom are overseeing the Justice Department probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

But that question resulted in another dodge by the attorney general.

“That requires a speculative answer,” Mr. Sessions said. “I am not just able to do that.”

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Mr. Sessions would not recuse himself from the Cohen investigation, However the report said Mr. Sessions may step back from the specific questions tied to the probe.

Mr. Sessions will access briefings on the status of the Cohen investigation and voice his opinion on decisions made by prosecutors, including whether to issue subpoenas or indictments, Bloomberg reported.

Mr. Sessions recused himself last year from the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The recusal of Mr. Sessions from the Russia investigation has left Mr. Rosenstien left coordinating any conflicts between it and the Cohen probe. Mr. Rosenstein signed the search warrant authorizing the raid on Mr. Cohen’s office, hotel room and home.

The president has repeatedly complained about Mr. Sessions’ decision, calling it “very unfair” and saying he would have picked someone else for attorney general had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself.

Last month, Mr. Sessions defended his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

“I think that’s what I had to do,” he said last month while taking questions at the Federalist Society gathering. “There is a specific regulation that says if you participate in a campaign — it explicitly says that — you cannot investigate the campaign of which you were a part. Pretty reasonable, I think.”

The FBI seized from Mr. Cohen emails, tax documents and records related to his $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford, better known by her adult-film name Stormy Daniels.

Ms. Clifford has said she received the payment just before the 2016 election to prevent damaging information about Mr. Trump to be leaked to the media.

Mr. Cohen appeared in a New York courtroom last week as his defense attorneys sparred with prosecutors over which documents seized in the raids should be protected by attorney-client privilege. A federal judge said she will consider appointing a neutral third party to decide which documents fall under that protection.


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