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: 91935

Reported Deaths: 2780
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6903153
DeSoto532153
Harrison368771
Jackson334367
Madison318086
Rankin313473
Lee254066
Jones236078
Forrest231069
Washington215671
Lafayette203039
Lauderdale1984123
Bolivar177465
Oktibbeha173749
Lamar156633
Neshoba1524103
Panola140926
Sunflower138543
Lowndes138457
Warren136650
Leflore134380
Pontotoc120416
Pike120148
Monroe117665
Scott115925
Copiah115433
Coahoma110927
Holmes108458
Marshall106714
Grenada104535
Lincoln104453
Yazoo103429
Simpson100142
Union96524
Tate94537
Leake93535
Adams89135
Wayne87121
Pearl River84850
Marion83633
Covington79321
Prentiss78617
Alcorn75310
Newton74722
Itawamba74121
George73913
Tallahatchie73418
Winston71919
Tishomingo65035
Attala63625
Chickasaw63524
Tippah63516
Walthall58925
Clay56216
Hancock55420
Noxubee54015
Jasper53615
Clarke52538
Smith51714
Calhoun50612
Tunica47213
Montgomery45020
Claiborne44916
Lawrence42212
Yalobusha41314
Perry39016
Humphreys36915
Quitman3625
Stone34611
Greene33516
Webster32813
Jefferson Davis32211
Carroll30812
Amite30710
Wilkinson30117
Kemper28515
Sharkey25812
Jefferson2359
Benton2151
Franklin1863
Choctaw1775
Issaquena1033
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128818

Reported Deaths: 2284
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18648332
Mobile12949288
Montgomery8560170
Madison736573
Tuscaloosa7015112
Lee558259
Shelby550149
Baldwin502148
Marshall376342
Etowah326344
Calhoun321139
Morgan312925
Houston260621
Elmore247547
DeKalb230119
St. Clair218134
Walker217780
Talladega199925
Limestone191919
Cullman180017
Franklin172728
Dallas172526
Russell16912
Autauga162424
Lauderdale159231
Colbert157224
Escambia154324
Blount150413
Jackson146610
Chilton143325
Dale128042
Covington127027
Coffee12388
Pike11329
Tallapoosa112483
Chambers110642
Clarke104417
Marion91428
Butler90238
Barbour8097
Marengo69319
Winston68512
Lowndes64327
Pickens62214
Bibb6179
Hale60828
Bullock58514
Randolph58512
Lawrence57620
Monroe5708
Washington54513
Geneva5404
Perry5356
Wilcox52911
Cherokee52816
Clay5187
Conecuh51611
Crenshaw51531
Macon46619
Henry4524
Sumter41719
Fayette4128
Choctaw34212
Lamar3302
Cleburne3116
Greene29915
Coosa1573
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