- Two Republican congressmen are calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down, saying he is unable to control leaks coming out of the FBI.
- Sessions’ resignation would clear the way for Trump to appoint a new attorney general who is not recused from the Russia probe – and could fire Robert Mueller.
- Trump has repeatedly expressed displeasure with Sessions and was reportedly asking aides last summer how it would play politically if he fired him.
Republican Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan on Thursday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign in an op-ed published by the conservative Washington Examiner, citing leaks coming out of the FBI they said Sessions appeared unable to “control.”
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation, but it would appear he has no control at all of the premier law enforcement agency in the world,” the lawmakers wrote.
“It is time for Sessions to start managing in a spirit of transparency to bring all of this improper behaviour to light and stop further violations,” they said. “If Sessions can’t address this issue immediately, then we have one final question needing an answer: When is it time for a new attorney general? Sadly, it seems the answer is now.”
Meadows and Jordan, who have been fiercely critical of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, seemed particularly irked by a New York Times report published last weekend that seemed to undermine the popular GOP talking point. The Times story suggested that the so-called Steele dossier, the document that contains unverified allegations of collusion,did not trigger the FBI’s Russia probe.
The Times report said instead that Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos’ drunken comments to an Australian diplomat about Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, combined with Russia’s hack on the Democratic National Committee, sparked the FBI’s probe.
Meadows and Jordan – who acknowledged recently that he’s been in touch with the White House about the Mueller probe – raised questions about the Times report, calling it a “far-fetched and ill-supported” story that contributed to the “manufactured hysteria” surrounding the investigation that had masked the “substantial accomplishments of President Trump’s administration.”
But they seemed equally if not more concerned by what they characterised as the “alarming number of FBI agents and DOJ officials sharing information with reporters” in “clear violation of the investigative standards that Americans expect and should demand.”
Sessions, they wrote, should resign now that he has proven he can’t control the FBI.
They may have another motive
The congressmen, who have asserted that there is “no evidence” of collusion and have questioned why Mueller’s probe is taking so long, may have another motive. If Sessions resigned, a new attorney general who is not recused from the Russia investigation as Sessions is would need to be appointed.
Sessions recused himself early last year after it was revealed that he had failed to disclose that he had at least two meetings with Russia’s ambassador to the US during the campaign.
That new attorney general could fire Mueller, since Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has already signalled that he has no plans to do it himself.
Mueller asked the Justice Department in November to hand over thousands of documents related to the firing of James Comey as FBI director, including any communications between the White House and the department around the time that Sessions recused himself.
The request for emails between the White House and the DOJ related to Sessions’ recusal could help Mueller determine why Trump has expressed anger at Sessions relinquishing control over the campaign-related investigations to Rosenstein in March.
Trump has made no secret of his displeasure with Sessions. He told the New York Times last summer that he “would have picked someone else” for the job if he knew Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. He called Sessions “beleaguered” and “weak” in later tweets and asked why the DOJ was not investigating “crooked Hillarys crimes.”
A person close to Trump told The Washington Post around the same time that Trump had asked about how firing Sessions “would play in the conservative media” and whether it would help to replace Sessions “with a major conservative.”
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