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NYTimes: Mueller learned of Trump attempt to stop Sessions recusal

Special counsel Robert Mueller is aware of an unsuccessful attempt by President Donald Trump to lobby Attorney Genera...

Posted: Jan 6, 2018 1:09 AM
Updated: Jan 6, 2018 1:09 AM

Special counsel Robert Mueller is aware of an unsuccessful attempt by President Donald Trump to lobby Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Justice Department's Russia probe, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The Times, citing two people with knowledge of the episode, said Trump had ordered White House counsel Don McGahn last March to stop Sessions from recusing himself from oversight of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. A source close to Sessions confirmed to CNN Friday that McGahn reached out to the attorney general in an attempt to dissuade him.

Trump's reported attempt to have a political ally maintain control of an investigation into his associates would add to a list of possible examples of Trump seeking to influence the Justice Department -- and opening himself up to potential obstruction of justice claims.

Ty Cobb, a lawyer for the President, told CNN tonight he "respectfully declines to respond."

At the time, Sessions faced mounting calls for recusal given his support for the Trump campaign and the revelation of an omission during his confirmation hearing about contacts with Sergey Kislyak, who was the Russian ambassador to the US at the time.

While widely reported on, the government did not confirm the existence of the investigation until then-FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee later in March 2017 that there was an ongoing investigation into potential coordination between Trump's associates and Russia to influence the 2016 election.

The Times also reported that, "Two days after Mr. Comey's testimony, an aide to Mr. Sessions approached a Capitol Hill staff member asking whether the staffer had any derogatory information about the FBI director," a claim that the Justice Department denied. "The attorney general wanted one negative article a day in the news media about Mr. Comey, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting," the Times reported.

But Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told CNN: "This did not happen and would not happen. Plain and simple."

New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, released a statement in the wake of the report, calling McGahn's reported conduct "completely unacceptable" and saying McGahn should make himself available to the committee.

"Congress needs to know exactly what efforts Mr. McGahn took to 'lobby' the Attorney General in this case, and what President Trump's role was in those efforts," Nadler said.

Sessions announced he would recuse himself from all matters relating to the investigation in early March. Politicians, including Republicans, praised the decision at the time, but Trump has publicly rebuked his attorney general and said he wished Sessions had not recused.

The Times reported Thursday that after McGahn was unsuccessful at getting Sessions not to recuse, Trump became angry and said he needed an attorney general to protect him.

Sessions' recusal left Justice Department oversight of the probe to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed former FBI director Mueller to be special counsel after Trump fired Comey in May 2017.

Sessions said in summer 2017 he was "confident" he had made the right decision about recusal -- and as some Republicans called Thursday for his ouster, some top Democrats, in a major shift, have suggested Sessions should stay to avoid interference with the special counsel probe.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 338079

Reported Deaths: 7523
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23409440
DeSoto23069280
Harrison20064328
Rankin15119290
Jackson14743251
Madison10806227
Lee10568179
Jones8864169
Forrest8408159
Lauderdale7684243
Lowndes6917151
Lamar683789
Lafayette6502124
Washington5551139
Pearl River5060150
Bolivar4923134
Oktibbeha484798
Panola4739112
Warren4690127
Marshall4670106
Pontotoc442873
Monroe4293137
Union429179
Neshoba4232181
Hancock417788
Lincoln4148116
Pike3605113
Leflore3587125
Tate351488
Alcorn346474
Sunflower344994
Adams338488
Scott336676
Yazoo335673
Simpson319290
Copiah319068
Itawamba312480
Coahoma311585
Tippah300568
Prentiss295063
Covington287183
Marion281780
Leake281575
Wayne274643
Grenada267588
George266251
Newton258964
Tishomingo238070
Winston236284
Jasper227548
Attala223373
Stone219437
Chickasaw217560
Holmes197674
Clay194654
Clarke184480
Tallahatchie182742
Calhoun179432
Smith177535
Yalobusha170240
Walthall144448
Lawrence140026
Greene137634
Amite135643
Noxubee134235
Perry132438
Montgomery131544
Carroll125431
Webster119132
Jefferson Davis114234
Tunica113227
Benton105925
Claiborne104831
Kemper101429
Humphreys99833
Franklin86723
Quitman84319
Choctaw81819
Wilkinson76532
Jefferson70428
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 574737

Reported Deaths: 11492
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson839571589
Mobile46611857
Madison36938532
Tuscaloosa26841465
Shelby26769255
Montgomery25853624
Baldwin24213326
Lee16897181
Calhoun15210332
Morgan14990289
Etowah14721369
Marshall12855235
Houston11661292
Elmore10727217
St. Clair10587250
Limestone10535158
Cullman10323204
Lauderdale10044253
DeKalb9335191
Talladega8797187
Walker7659286
Autauga7456114
Jackson7295117
Blount7233139
Colbert6614142
Coffee6117131
Dale5393117
Russell467742
Chilton4666117
Covington4623125
Franklin447281
Tallapoosa4420157
Escambia425282
Chambers3880125
Dallas3707163
Clarke366462
Marion3413106
Pike326979
Lawrence3211101
Winston293972
Bibb282965
Geneva274283
Marengo259067
Barbour245161
Pickens239662
Butler237672
Hale232378
Fayette225064
Henry206645
Randolph196144
Monroe195041
Cherokee194548
Washington179339
Macon168352
Crenshaw165058
Clay163659
Cleburne159945
Lamar149738
Lowndes144854
Wilcox129831
Bullock126042
Conecuh119530
Coosa116729
Perry109928
Sumter108732
Greene98336
Choctaw63925
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 77°
Feels Like: 83°
Columbus
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 84°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 75°
Starkville
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 84°
Thursday will be another very hot and very humid day across Mississippi and Alabama. Many areas will be well above 100 degrees with the heat index, some even as high as 120 degrees in the Delta of Mississippi.
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