Sessions Breaks Silence About Decision to Recuse Himself From Russia Inquiries

May 12, 2020 Updated: May 13, 2020

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a public statement on May 12 with an extensive explanation about his decision to recuse himself from any investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Sessions wrote that he was not aware of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign when he accepted the nomination for attorney general. He also revealed that he pushed to fire then-FBI Director James Comey during the early days of the Trump administration.

“As the world knows, the President disagreed with me on recusal, but I did what the law required me to do. I was a central figure in the campaign and was also a subject of and witness in the investigation and could obviously not legally be involved in investigating myself,” Sessions wrote.

“If I had ignored and broken the law, the Democrats would have used that to severely damage the President.”

Sessions recused himself on March 2, 2017, more than two weeks before Comey formally confirmed that the FBI was investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The former attorney general pointed out that he offered to resign from his post on the morning after the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.

“But President Trump chose not to accept it, and he asked me to continue to serve as his Attorney General and to help him ‘Make America Great Again,'” Sessions wrote.

Trump has on many occasions publicly criticized Sessions for the decision to recuse. Due to the recusal, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversaw the special counsel’s Russia investigation.

Sessions resigned from his post on Nov. 7, 2018, triggering a handoff of the reigns on the Russia investigation to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

The former attorney general is running for his former U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. In March, Trump endorsed Sessions’ primary opponent in the race, Tommy Tuberville. The Republican primary election runoff in Alabama will take place on July 14.

Despite the heavy blow from Trump’s endorsement of Tuberville, Sessions says he still supports the president and his agenda.

“I believe President Trump is a great President who is steadily making progress for America, despite relentless opposition. My support for his agenda is not about me, or even about him. It’s about doing the right thing for the country I so love,” Sessions wrote.

Mueller concluded his investigation last year having found insufficient evidence to establish that anyone on the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

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