STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

In shift, Democrats try to keep Sessions as attorney general

Last year, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was blunt in his assessment of Jeff Sessions: "For the good of the co...

Posted: Jan 5, 2018 12:06 AM
Updated: Jan 5, 2018 12:06 AM

Last year, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was blunt in his assessment of Jeff Sessions: "For the good of the country, Attorney General Sessions should resign."

Now, Schumer and other Democrats have changed their tune, suggesting Sessions should stay in the job as long as special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Two conservative Republicans called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign

Democrats are giving cover to Session because of the Mueller investigation

"I voted against Jeff Sessions and said he never should be there in the first place, given his record on civil rights, on immigration, on so many other issues," Schumer said Thursday in the Capitol. "My view now is very simple: nothing, nothing should ever interfere with the Mueller investigation."

As two leading House conservatives demanded Thursday that Sessions resign, citing in part the attorney general's recusal from running the Russia investigation, Democrats are now coming to the defense of an attorney general they have long opposed.

With Sessions recused from the Russia investigation, they believe, they have the attorney general in a perfect spot. Mueller has to report to the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, rather than Sessions, who was the President's first supporter as a senator and a top surrogate on the campaign trail.

If Sessions were to resign or be fired by Trump, then the President could install a new attorney general -- potentially a loyalist who could influence the Mueller probe.

RELATED: Can Donald Trump fire Robert Mueller? And how would it work?

And that has put Democrats in an awkward spot, giving a full-throated defense of Sessions. He was confirmed last February with all Democrats voting against him except for West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

"I have a lot of differences of opinion with Jeff Sessions, but I don't think the case has been made for his resigning," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. "It would be problematic in a lot of ways."

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the call for Sessions' resignation was just "one more effort to try to obfuscate and frankly interfere with the Mueller investigation."

Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat who has called on Trump to resign following sexual harassment allegations, will no longer call on Sessions to step aside.

"There was a time earlier in his tenure that I called him on to resign," Merkley said. "At this point, I would have to determine the consequences knowing the president may be trying to obstruct justice."

Trump has publicly and privately fumed that Sessions should not have recused himself from the Russia investigation, and has criticized the attorney general repeatedly, including calling him "beleaguered." And while Sessions has signaled he is not going to resign, speculation has mounted that Trump could fire his attorney general to assert more control over the Russia probe.

On Thursday, two top House conservatives -- who are part of an investigation into the FBI's decisions during the 2016 campaign -- gave the President cover should he take that step. Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, said bluntly that Sessions should step aside.

"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," they said in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner. "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," they wrote.

But Senate Republicans, by and large, stood by Sessions, who served with many of them when he was the junior senator from Alabama.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley - who has clashed with the Justice Department over the Clinton email investigation and memos written by former FBI Director James Comey - says he still backs Sessions at DOJ, and he declined to join with the House Republicans who called for Sessions' resignation Thursday.

"I believe at this point, I'd have to say that I'm glad that Sessions is attorney general," Grassley said. "Do I agree with everything he does or maybe things he ought to be doing that he's not doing? The answer is no. But I wouldn't call for his resignation."

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Meadows and Jordan were "off base."

"Anybody who questions the fitness of Bob Mueller or refers to the Justice Department as a deep state is off base, and we shouldn't so distrust in our institutions like that," Flake said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 13260

Reported Deaths: 625
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds89324
Lauderdale67855
Madison65421
Scott58910
Neshoba51231
Forrest48034
Jones46713
DeSoto4616
Leake38410
Holmes36523
Rankin3496
Jackson29613
Copiah2784
Attala27014
Lincoln24320
Monroe24224
Leflore24025
Harrison2346
Newton2243
Lamar2194
Yazoo2152
Pearl River20327
Pike19611
Adams18615
Lowndes1607
Noxubee1586
Washington1535
Warren1506
Bolivar14010
Jasper1393
Oktibbeha13410
Smith13110
Covington1271
Chickasaw12612
Clarke12616
Kemper12510
Lafayette1233
Carroll11310
Wayne1090
Marion1088
Lee1045
Clay993
Winston981
Coahoma983
Lawrence901
Hancock8711
Simpson850
Itawamba857
Yalobusha824
Wilkinson829
Montgomery781
Sunflower773
Grenada752
Jefferson Davis712
Union715
Tippah7011
Marshall693
Panola622
Calhoun604
Tate591
Claiborne581
Humphreys537
Amite521
Walthall510
Tunica483
Perry462
Jefferson400
Prentiss383
Stone300
Choctaw292
Webster271
Pontotoc263
Franklin252
Tishomingo250
Quitman240
Tallahatchie241
George191
Alcorn151
Benton140
Greene71
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 14478

Reported Deaths: 551
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile1996109
Jefferson161488
Montgomery118630
Marshall6499
Tuscaloosa50512
Lee49832
Franklin4476
Shelby43319
Tallapoosa39662
Butler34411
Chambers33623
Madison2964
Baldwin2749
Elmore2637
Etowah23610
DeKalb2213
Coffee2001
Walker1981
Dallas1973
Sumter1916
Lowndes18610
Houston1644
Morgan1621
Autauga1593
Calhoun1413
Choctaw1414
Pike1360
Colbert1362
Marengo1336
Hale1293
Russell1280
Lauderdale1282
Randolph1257
Wilcox1187
Marion11310
Bullock1111
Barbour1101
Clarke1022
St. Clair1021
Pickens934
Talladega912
Greene894
Chilton871
Dale830
Cullman760
Limestone740
Jackson692
Covington651
Washington645
Winston620
Macon602
Bibb591
Crenshaw582
Henry562
Blount491
Escambia433
Lawrence420
Coosa331
Geneva330
Cherokee332
Perry310
Monroe282
Clay272
Conecuh251
Lamar200
Cleburne131
Fayette110
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 74°
Columbus
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 71°
Oxford
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather