Sessions Won't Recuse Himself From Trump-Cohen Probe

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will not recuse himself from the investigation into President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen - however he may "step back" from "specific questions tied to the probe," reports Bloombergciting a person familiar with the matter. 

This is notable because while Sessions recused himself from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, he won't be recusing himself from one of the rabbit holes Mueller's team has now gone down which ostensibly has nothing to do with Russia. 

By remaining involved in the probe, Sessions will be entitled to briefings on the status of the investigation currently being conducted by the U.S. Attorney's office of the Southern District of New York. As Bloomberg posits, this could put Sessions in the position of being asked by Trump, "who strongly condemned the FBI raid on his longtime lawyer," to reveal information about the ongoing Cohen investigation. 

Sessions could also weigh in on specific decisions by prosecutors, including whether to pursue subpoenas and indictments. The attorney general may be asked about his role in the Cohen investigation when he testifies before congressional panels on Wednesday and Thursday. -Bloomberg

“The attorney general considers his potential recusal on a matter-by-matter basis as may be needed,” the department said in a statement. “To the extent a matter comes to the attention of his office that may warrant consideration of recusal, the attorney general would review the issue and consult with the appropriate Department ethics experts.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein - who approved the raid on Cohen's home, office and hotel room on April 9, will reportedly resolve any conflicts between the Mueller probe and the Cohen investigation.

Sessions threatens to quit

In a show of solidarity with Rosenstein, Sessions told the White House recently that he might quit if his President Trump fires Deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein over the raid - which he reportedly told White House Counsel Donald McGahn during a phone call earlier in the month according to WaPo

Sessions’s message to the White House, which has not previously been reported, underscores the political firestorm that Trump would invite should he attempt to remove the deputy attorney general. While Trump also has railed against Sessions at times, the protest resignation of an attorney general – which would be likely to incite other departures within the administration – would create a moment of profound crisis for the White House.

Rosenstein also signed off one of the FISA spy warrant renewals on a Trump campaign associate targeted in an FBI counterintelligence operation. Another person familiar with the exchange insisted that Sessions didn't intend on threatening the White House - rather, he wanted to convey that Rosenstein's firing would put him in an untenable position.

During a joint press conference on Wednesday with Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe, President Trump sought to calm fears over whether he would fire Rosenstein or Mueller.

“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months, and they’re still here,” said Trump - though he expressed a desire to end the Russia investigation, calling it a "very bad thing for our country." 

So we want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us,” Trump added.

Over 800 former Justice Department employees have signed an open letter calling on Congress to "swiftly and forcefully respond to protect the founding principles of our Republic and the rule of law" if Rosenstein, Mueller or other senior DOJ officials are fired. Liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org has plans to organize nationwide protests if the G-men are fired. 

Last Wednesday, Eleven GOP members of Congress led by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) wrote a criminal referral to Sessions, along with Attorney John Huber and FBI Director Christopher Wray - accusing James Comey, Hillary Clinton and others of a laundry list of malfeasance surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and insisting that Rosenstein "be recused from any examination of FISA abuse," and "neither U.S. Attorney John Huber nor a special counsel (if appointed) should report to Rosenstein."  

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