Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would recuse himself from Trump Campaign-related investigations. However, his recusal should not be limited to only investigations involving the Trump Campaign. Under 28 CFR § 45.2, the Attorney General is required to recuse himself from a criminal investigation when he has a “personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution,” and must also recuse himself from any investigation where his participation would “create an appearance of a conflict of interest likely to affect the public perception of the integrity of the investigation or prosecution.”
Serious allegations of misconduct involving President Trump and his associates occurred subsequent to the presidential election ― including but not limited to communications between General Flynn and the Russian government, potentially improper contact between White House aides and officials within the Justice Department, and misstatements by the Attorney General himself.
Just as importantly, we need to ensure that any investigation involving issues which overlap between the campaign and the Administration are fully and fairly investigated, including what influence the Russian government, Russian intelligence and Russian financial interests may have with regard to Mr. Trump and his Administration, and whether there have been any efforts to cover up the same.
As such, the Attorney General must recuse himself from any and all investigations involving the campaign, the transition, and the Trump Administration. He must obviously step aside from any investigation in which he himself may be a target.
I am not persuaded by the Attorney General’s effort to explain his misstatements to the Senate Judiciary Committee, in response to questions asked verbally by Senator Franken and in writing by Senator Leahy, and it is not at all clear that an after-the-fact clarification to the Committee will resolve this matter. As every Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee wrote, the question of whether or not the Attorney General’s statement constitutes perjury should be reviewed by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
I am troubled by President Trump’s statement that he does not think Attorney General Sessions should recuse himself from any Russia-related investigations. It was wholly inappropriate for the President to discourage the Attorney General or anyone else from recusing themselves from any ongoing criminal investigation―let alone an investigation in which he and members of his Administration are potential suspects. Such statements fly in the face of applicable DOJ guidelines. They also smack of an attempted cover-up.
These events and statements also make abundantly clear, as I and many other Members of Congress have stated previously, that we need an independent, non-partisan commission to review the entire matter.