President Donald Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take back his recusal from the Russia investigation and oversee the probe being run by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, it has been reported.
Mueller is investigating the request by the president, which was reportedly made in March 2017, as part of an expanding probe into whether he obstructed justice.
News of the request was first reported by The New York Times.
Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his role as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.
The campaign and its officials are being probed over suspicions that they held illegal contacts with the Russian government during and after the 2016 campaign.
President Donald Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take back his recusal from the Russia investigation and oversee the probe being run by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, it ha been reported
Trump and the Russian government deny the allegations.
The president has been seething for months over Sessions’ decision to recuse himself – a step that was recommended by Justice Department officials.
Sessions was pressured to step aside after news surfaced that he held contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the campaign.
After Sessions’ recusal, his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, appointed Mueller to handle the investigation.
Trump had also fired James Comey as director of the FBI. The president told NBC News that the reason for Comey’s dismissal was his handling of the Russia investigation.
Mueller’s investigation is focused not only on the circumstances surrounding Comey’s firing but also Trump’s efforts to pressure Sessions to re-assume control of the Russia probe.
Trump believes that Sessions’ recusal led to the Mueller investigation.
In the months since the recusal, Trump has belittled Sessions on Twitter as well as in speeches before public rallies.
The president has reportedly been trying to get Sessions to resign, but Senate Republicans told him that they would not confirm a new attorney general – forcing Trump to back down.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, said that he did not discuss Sessions’ recusal with the president.
Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his role as a surrogate for the Trump campaign
But if a request to reverse his recusal were made by Trump, it would not be improper, according to Giuliani.
‘“Unrecuse” doesn’t say, “Bury the investigation.” It says on the face of it: “Take responsibility for it and handle it correctly”,’ Giuliani said.
Giuliani also said that it would be improper for Mueller to ask Trump about his conversations with senior administration officials because it would set a bad precedent for future presidents.
The Times also reported that Sessions’ recusal has led to a deteriorating in their relationship.
Before the attorney general recused himself, he and Trump were friends. They would dine together and have frequent talks on the phone.
Mueller is investigating the request by the president, which was reportedly made in March 2017, as part of an expanding probe into whether he obstructed justice
Sessions was pressured to step aside after news surfaced that he held contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the campaign. After Sessions’ recusal, his deputy, Rod Rosenstein (above), appointed Mueller to handle the investigation
Now former and current White House officials say that they rarely speak outside of cabinet meetings.
Trump and Sessions attended the same event in New Hampshire this past March, but they flew in separate planes, according to the Times.
In an interview with the Times last July, Trump said he never would have named Sessions attorney general if he knew he would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Days after the interview, a Washington Post report revealed that Sessions held contacts with Moscow’s then-ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak.
Trump reacted furiously to the report. He told his then-chief of staff, Reince Priebus, that he wanted Sessions to resign by the end of the weekend.
Priebus then called Sessions’ chief of staff, Jody Hunt, who told him that the president would need to talk to the attorney general himself if he wanted him to resign.
Priebus was unsure what to do, so he decided to wait. Trump never called Sessions.
Instead, he launched a Twitter attack, posting: ‘Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!’
Mueller’s team has told the president’s lawyers that they want to ask Trump about his discussions with Priebus as well as his public criticisms of Sessions.