Trump Pushed Jeff Sessions to End His Recusal and Retake Control of Russia Probe

Trump Pushed Jeff Sessions to End His Recusal and Retake Control of Russia Probe May 30, 2018

For the hundredth time, if you’re innocent, stop acting like a guilty man!

For Donald Trump, his panicky freak-out isn’t something that developed slowly, over time. It’s not the stress of knowing the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election just flipped past its first year, and that various members of his campaign team have been swept up in Robert Mueller’s net.

From the very beginning, Trump has acted as if the investigation into Russian interference in the election would somehow come up to bite him on the backside – hard.

The first indication is when he fired FBI Director James Comey. Several days later, he contradicted his own people and said on national television, while talking to NBC’s Lester Holt, that he’d fired him because of the Russia investigation.

Had he played it cool, this may have already blown over, and all the discomfort being felt by Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and even his oldest son, Donald Trump Jr. may have been minimized.

I’m not even saying he shouldn’t have fired James Comey.

Comey handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server horribly. That was reason enough to let him go, but Trump being Trump, he played it for maximum humiliation and in doing so, brought into question his own motives.

If all that wasn’t enough, his not-so-behind-the-scenes meltdown over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe very much looks as if he required a loyalist to protect him in much the same way as Eric Holder and then Loretta Lynch were considered to be running cover for Barack Obama.

That’s not the job of the attorney general, and just because Holder and Lynch were sleazy, that doesn’t mean a Republican president should get his own toady at the DOJ.

But that’s what Trump expected, and according to the New York Times, he didn’t just try to make Sessions’ life a living hell for that decision. He also tried to talk him out of that recusal.

According to the report, for two days after Sessions announced his recusal – something he felt necessary to do, since it was discovered he had his own contacts with Russian officials during the election – President Trump refused to speak to him.

Sessions was forced to travel to Florida, to meet face-to-face with the president at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.

Mr. Sessions refused.

The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as are the president’s public and private attacks on Mr. Sessions and efforts to get him to resign. Mr. Trump dwelled on the recusal for months, according to confidants and current and former administration officials who described his behavior toward the attorney general.

See what I mean?

Something happens, Trump overreacts or reacts inappropriately, and he gets himself in deeper.

Investigators have pressed current and former White House officials about Mr. Trump’s treatment of Mr. Sessions and whether they believe the president was trying to impede the Russia investigation by pressuring him. The attorney general was also interviewed at length by Mr. Mueller’s investigators in January. And of the four dozen or so questions Mr. Mueller wants to ask Mr. Trump, eight relate to Mr. Sessions. Among them: What efforts did you make to try to get him to reverse his recusal?

For the time being, there’s been no agreement made for a sit-down between President Trump and Mueller. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lead lawyer, has said that the president is willing, but that for now, he’s advising him against it, as he and the rest of counsel feel Trump’s fire-at-will lip will lead him into a “perjury trap.”

Early Wednesday morning Trump tweeted out what he heard from Trey Gowdy, in particular regarding how Sessions could have told him he planned to recuse himself, to allow for him to choose someone else, if necessary.

That’s kind of dirty, considering Sessions jumped the Trump train early in the primaries and rode it longer than anyone else, proving himself a loyal surrogate.

At the Mar-a-Lago meeting, Trump asked Sessions over and over to “unrecuse” himself and take back control of the Russia investigation.

And while Sessions has worked hard to push through the Trump agenda, in areas such as immigration, he gets few kudos and absolute scorn.

If that Wednesday tweet is any indication, the president still blames him for the ongoing Russia probe.

He was supposed to throw himself in front of Mueller’s bullet for Trump, and he didn’t do it.

 

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