Obstruction of Justice? Jeff Sessions Refuses to Recuse Himself from Cohen Investigation
Update: CBS News now reports that Attorney General Sessions has now stated that he is recused.
Sessions is walking on thin ice now
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced that he will not be recusing himself from the federal investigation into Michael Cohen, Bloomberg’s Chris Strohm reports.
The probe, which opened in early April 2018, was initiated after reports indicated that Cohen was involved in distributing hush money payments to Stephanie Clifford, a pornographic actress who Trump allegedly had an extramarital affair with in 2006. Better known as Stormy Daniels, Clifford claimed during an interview with “60 Minutes” that someone had threatened her in front of her infant daughter.
The charges being thrown at Cohen include bank fraud and violating campaign finance regulations. As Attorney General, Sessions will not only have access to briefings on the case, but also be able to influence the direction of the prosecution.
Normally, this would not be an issue as it is the job of the Attorney General to be objective in all cases. The problem here, though, is that Sessions has maintained a staunch loyalty to Trump in the past. In June 2017, for example, during a Senate hearing, Sessions used warped legal jargon to avoid answering any inquiries from Democratic senators regarding his actions during the 2016 Trump campaign.
Interestingly, Sessions had previously recused himself in March 2017 from looking into the Russia investigation. While it was later revealed that Trump had tried to talk him out of this decision, Sessions’s choice at the time was based off of two reasons: one, not wanting to violate the Department of Justice’s rules that prevent employees from participating in criminal investigations if they have “a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution, or who would be directly affected by the outcome.” And two, wanting to avoid any tensions with members of the Republican Party that believed in the Russian allegations.
By deciding to be a part of the Cohen proceedings, there is a strong chance that Sessions will be coerced into confiding details to Trump, much like Devin Nunes infamously did in the House Intelligence Committee. With Robert Mueller having had a hand in the FBI raiding Cohen’s offices, the country will have to wait to see how both investigations proceed.
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