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.

Confirmed Cases: 30674

Reported Deaths: 1107
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds248039
DeSoto157216
Madison129634
Jones112049
Neshoba98571
Rankin91612
Lauderdale90879
Harrison88610
Forrest86042
Scott77015
Jackson61616
Copiah60216
Washington5789
Leake57519
Holmes55141
Lee54718
Wayne54213
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51118
Yazoo5056
Leflore48651
Lowndes48312
Grenada4795
Lamar4567
Lincoln45434
Pike43112
Monroe39930
Lafayette3894
Sunflower3737
Attala35923
Covington3475
Panola3456
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Adams31018
Simpson3103
Pontotoc2836
Tate27810
Chickasaw27618
Marion27511
Claiborne27010
Jasper2616
Noxubee2618
Winston2596
Pearl River25432
Clay24910
Marshall2263
Smith22011
Union2079
Clarke20624
Walthall2004
Coahoma1996
Kemper17814
Lawrence1741
Yalobusha1717
Carroll16411
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1312
Tippah13011
Calhoun1294
Hancock12613
Webster12510
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite892
George863
Tishomingo781
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn682
Perry664
Stone641
Franklin452
Sharkey350
Benton340
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4944152
Montgomery4021103
Mobile4005134
Tuscaloosa222642
Marshall170210
Lee135937
Madison13597
Shelby122723
Morgan10715
Walker91424
Elmore90314
Franklin88914
Dallas8799
Baldwin8469
Etowah72713
DeKalb7075
Butler62428
Chambers62427
Tallapoosa58869
Autauga58312
Russell5450
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4896
Limestone4810
Houston4794
Lowndes46721
Cullman4394
Pike4205
Colbert3916
Coffee3732
Bullock36810
St. Clair3662
Covington3547
Barbour3472
Escambia3376
Calhoun3325
Hale31021
Talladega3037
Marengo30211
Wilcox2908
Sumter28412
Dale2820
Clarke2736
Jackson2682
Winston2543
Chilton2392
Monroe2342
Blount2301
Pickens2276
Marion21913
Conecuh2047
Randolph2009
Choctaw19512
Bibb1871
Macon1859
Greene1838
Perry1701
Henry1323
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1070
Washington1057
Cherokee857
Geneva790
Lamar751
Fayette681
Clay642
Coosa581
Cleburne361
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