Trump: I Would Not Have Appointed Sessions If I Knew He Would Recuse Himself From Russian Investigation

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedjeff_sessions_official_portraitPresident Donald Trump gave a bombshell interview with the New York Times on Wednesday in which he said that he would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russian investigation.  It was a highly disturbing interview since Sessions recused on the advice of ethics experts at the Justice Department and the overwhelming view of the bar.

Trump stated:

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else . . . Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president . . . How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair—and that’s a mild word—to the president.”

Sessions stated in a press conference today that will continue to serve “as long as that is appropriate.”

Trump’s statement further undermines the position of his legal team. First, it essentially says that Sessions would have been rejected for stating an intention to follow ethical rules on recusal.  Second, the statement that the decision was “unfair” suggests that, had Sessions remained in charge, the Russian investigation would have somehow been terminated or curtailed.

I stated publicly weeks before the recusal that Sessions should recuse himself. If anything, I thought the decision was belated though my concerns were removed by Sessions’ statement that he actually removed himself from the Russian investigation as soon as he was sworn into office.  He had an obligation to avoid both a conflict or an appearance of a conflict and experts widely agreed that recusal was necessary.  Thus, the President is suggesting that Sessions should have rejected the view of his own department and the view of most experts in refusing to recuse himself.

The interview could well come back to haunt the President if this matter grows more serious toward any indictment or impeachment.  It is material to the firing of Comey since prosecutors could argue that, even when under investigation, Trump is still suggesting that he wanted high-ranking officials to scuttle the Russian investigation.  Statements of this kind are simply baffling.  They cause real harm to the position of the President and achieve nothing.  Ironically, I have long argued that the White House should have at the outset invited an independent investigation.  There is still no compelling evidence of a crime by Trump and such an investigation could clear his name — as opposed to some scuttling or curtailment of the investigation by one of his appointees.

 

I can understand the President’s frustration but these ad hoc comments are doing real harm to his administration.  It continues a long record of mishaps and misfires by the White House, including the timing and manner of the Comey termination.

157 thoughts on “Trump: I Would Not Have Appointed Sessions If I Knew He Would Recuse Himself From Russian Investigation

  1. I’ve been finding it interesting over the last several months to check in with Prof. Turley’s statements on these events. At best they are a welcome exceptionally well-informed skeptical view of the unfolding events. Sometimes they seem to be an interesting and possibly useful “Devil’s Advocate”. At worst, in a few cases, the Professor seems to be ramming his head in the sand to avoid dealing with how bad the situation really is.

    When I read Trump’s statements about Sessions and his recusal, I genuinely tried to come up with some other interpretation than the obvious: That Trump fully expected his Attorney General appointee to obstruct justice by interfering with the investigation that starts with Trump’s ties with and interactions with Russia and rightfully extends to other issues that appear to be potential criminal conduct by Trump himself, his family members, members of his administration such as Michel Flynn and a significant number of business associates.

    When we read from this exceptionally well-informed, exceptionally intelligent and highly skeptical author things like:

    “It was a highly disturbing interview…”

    “First, it essentially says that Sessions would have been rejected for stating an intention to follow ethical rules on recusal. Second, the statement that the decision was “unfair” suggests that, had Sessions remained in charge, the Russian investigation would have somehow been terminated or curtailed.”

    and

    “It is material to the firing of Comey since prosecutors could argue that, even when under investigation, Trump is still suggesting that he wanted high-ranking officials to scuttle the Russian investigation. Statements of this kind are simply baffling. They cause real harm to the position of the President and achieve nothing.”

    it is clear that the distinguished Professor wasn’t any more able to come up with any other “spin” or interpretation of the statements than I was.

  2. From the Post: “Ironically, I have long argued that the White House should have at the outset invited an independent investigation.”

    One is left to wonder that he must have something to hide. The more time that goes by, the more information that trickles out, and the more Trump (or those on his team) talks, tweets, acts, the more it looks as his administration has something to hide.

    If he did nothing wrong, he is the most guilty looking innocent person I ever saw.

  3. The level of stupidity here is only surpassed by the mindless polarized ranting which starts with an idiot lawyer, then trickles-down to the trailer-bound mis-educated people that are suddenly self-aware about details related to law, healthcare, the economy, the Constitution, etc. You all deserve each other and the freak in the WH!

  4. I find it ironic that Sessions is the only one who adopted the recommendations of the ethics group that works with members of the WH and he is being skewered for doing so by the president who refused to take those recommendation.

  5. I think Trump could be the great test of our democratic process. The executive branch has expanded its power with every administration, usually slowly but with big leaps during the FDR and GWB presidencies (for example). Even when Ike tried giving power back to Congress, they declined because they preferred using their time for local concerns and getting re-elected. So the question now is, can the party of “small government” push back against an executive that knows no bounds?

  6. I don’t think Donald Trump can get his head around the difference between running a company and being POTUS.

    The ideas of democratic checks and balances , ethics, ethical conflicts, and similar notions are just beyond his intellect.

    He just doesn’t get it.

    • Does that change the reality that the stupidity of sessions has released dark wolves to attack trump while people in the previous administration lied under oath to congress and are acting as the virtuous priests now ?

        • From a wider perspective we may not respect things that we may respect today . I’m not suggesting you do not have wider perspective , because that would make me look like the know it all antitrumpers. I think you would , however , agree with me that there is no end to achievement of more advanced perspective , even though a lot of elites think their perspective is the view from the top

            • you are right it’s not a novel concept , but that’s not the novel concept I was referring to . I was referring to another novel concept . I was talking about how we at different stages of psychological advancement can interpret the same information in a very different way . One can read a book and get nothing of value from the info contained in the book but the same book with the same information can trigger a cascade of enlightenment when read again by the same person a few years later.

  7. WTF is all this prattling on about “ethics”??? This whole Russia nothing-burger is nothing but a lame “get Trump” witch hunt, and here people are prattling on about ethics and conflicts of interest. What a bunch of silliness.

    If one group of people are engaged in a witch hunt, and all your group can do is prattle on about the “ethics” of the witch hunt, then your group is batsh*t insane. Because ethical people don’t engage in witch hunts in the first place.

    Sheeeeesh! It is obvious that Trump is of the same mind, that Sessions should have shown some evidence of having a set of balls from the get go, and called this crap what it was, a witch hunt. And that Session’s failure to do so, Session’s just going along with the usual games, instead of calling the games what they were, was a huge mistake.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    • Do you think the reason we are seeing this non sense is because we are dealing with psychological dwarfs who find it very delicious to feel like a victim than to realize what a loser they are ? it requires ego strength to realize we have been a loser and then make course correction . It requires American media , that is also a sore loser , to suggest that a loser was a victim , as that soothes their damaged sense of self . Such people cannot survive for long if America has to remain the best country on this planet .

      • No. You are dealing with a criminal political party (The Democrats) that is only interested in winning. To that end they are willing to abuse their political power, stuff the ballot box with illegal immigrants, refuse to allow poor people access to private schools, and see the black community continue to devolve, if it will only keep them in power. That’s just the short list. Democrats will lie, cheat, steal, mislead, demagogue and do whatever to stay in power.

        Sooo, no I don’t think there is a deep underlying psychological condition that is at work among the Democratic leadership and activists. They are just power mad, like numerous other political parties, and would rather see the country in ruins than lose their grip on power. Think the Nazis here, and the bombed out cities in World War II.

        Now, among the rank and file Democrats, you have a lot of psychological issues going on. They may buy into what their leaders are telling them because they are delusional and have other psychological issues, but the Democratic Party leaders and shill are not delusional. They know exactly what they are doing.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

        • I agree , they are corrupt , liars , and very primitive people, as you can gather from their comments . I , however , also think that this level of dysfunction has roots in a developmental arrest (esp of defense mechanisms) and no amount of formal education can correct that. The way to deal with dysfunction is to expose their true motives . If you see the questions of WH reporters I think you would agree that they are all game laden questions , and I wish one day our presidents will be aware of these games so they can have people who are trained in recognizing these “duplex” interactions and crush that line of question right then and there .
          “Virtue is knowledge and knowledge is virtue ” it’s easy to be corrupt when we are ignorant of games we maybe playing with others , and I regret to say , most of our media personalities are nothing but game players .

          • I agree about the defense mechanisms. I wrote a lengthy comment the other day on it. But that just applies to the rank and file Democrats. They are a petri dish of psychological disorders. I maintain that many of them have a bad case of Munchausens by Proxy Syndrome, and they will do anything to keep Blacks and Hispanics barefoot and pregnant so they can stay in control, and milk them for all the virtue signalling they can.

            Squeeky Fromm
            Girl Reporter

          • What if it’s not projection and it’s the reality ? Do you think you would be able to recognize that from your current point of view ?

    • Exactly. Can you imagine Reno, Holder, or lynch re-cusing themselves from anything? Of course not, being “ethical” is only for Republicans.

    • Yes Clinton and Obama were the pinnacle of ethics and human evolution in the minds of some that I can never understand at present at least , however , people who believe that most likely will never entertain the idea that they maybe dead wrong and may realize it later .

        • I don’t have a need to defend trump. Trump is much more honest and evolved than the primitive enemies of his. Ofcourse his enemies think they are the god’s gift to the humanity , something they share with isis . It’s no wonder that isis was born under the brilliant presidency of the complete disaster called obama presidency .

            • It is scary when the leader of the free world knows less than the subjects about the law he has sworn to protect. May we not repeat this experiment again, if we live through this mess we are in.

          • “Trump is much more honest and evolved than the primitive enemies of his.”

            Laugh line of the year. Trump, honest? Another fact free statement. His a businessman, and the worst kind, a real estate developer. Born liars.

  8. Holder never recused. Lynch never recused. I don’t believe there was a Russia probe when Sessions was nominated.

    • Sessions recused himself after misstating to the Judiciary Committee his own meetings with Russians. The probe into Russian meddling started before the election in November.

  9. O.J. Simpson – Murder – Robbery

    Bill Cosby – Assault – Rape

    Barry Soetoro – Pot Smoking – Abuse of Power – Unmasking – Wiretapping – IRS – Benghazi – Reconfiguring Intel Procedures to Facilitate Leaking Prior to Presidential Transition – Felonious Submission for “Foreign Student Aid” – Ineligibility as Election Fraud – Treasonous Presidential Acts Deleterious to America

    Eric Holder – Gun Running Under Color of Authority – Contempt of Congress

    Hillary Clinton – Obstruction of Justice – Mishandling of Classified Material – Pay For Play – Foundation
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    And Donald Trump is being investigated for being elected President.

    • As above, a fact free rebuttal. Unable to defend the President, you attack his predecessors of “crimes” which did not occur, which are completely without proof. Do understand why Cosby or OJ are listed-I guess you are obsessed with their race.

      • I am obsessed with affirmative action which is racism.

        People must adapt to freedom.

        Freedom does not adapt to people.

        Dictatorship does.

  10. After reading comments from comrades of Trump, and after the laughter dies down I ask once again….When just when are you people going to put country over party? You have put a man? in the White House that is WAY over his head and hired nothing but kakistocracy. Living in a alternate universe being willfully ignorant of facts is no way to go thru life.

    • Do you really believe Obama put country over party with his policies? Really? Do you really believe a Saul Alinskyite community organizer and a 30 second stint in Congress qualified Obama to lead anything? Really?

    • And you think you have discovered the absolute truth? I guess Socrates must have been a real idiot who famously said that he was sure of only one thing that he did not know much . Does that give you any pause or humility that you maybe the one living in a delusion of knowing it all ?

    • The problem is that under our aging Constitution, we are forced to vote for a combination of the policies we favor and the individual leader all in the same vote. I voted for key policy shifts in 2016 while holding my nose at the candidate’s lack of leadership ability, banking on a strong Cabinet. I’m happy with the jobs done so far by Tillerson, Mattis and Allen. All 3 are more effective than their immediate predecessors.

    • FishWings,

      You & some other Anti- American Trump haters here hate the USA so much then why the heck are you still here?

      Leave freely & may your chains rest comfortable on your ankles!

      Mind you both sides of my family breed like rabbits since they served under Patrick Henry 240+ years ago & helped gave you this great Nation.

      You’d have to be out’ta your Phk’in mind to think we’re going to let your type of American Hating Trash to destroy this Nation when we’ve the backing from a patriotic Prez, AG, Intel C, Military, Leo, current, retired & the citizens.

      Un-appreciating scum in this great Nation need to get the hell out! Try Londonistan, North Korea, Mexico,…. etc.

  11. What’s wrong with this picture?

    President Trump is being investigated for being elected President while Obongo egregiously abused the power of government against the people at the IRS, with “wiretapping” and “unmasking” political opponents during an election, reconfiguring Intel procedures to facilitate opposition research and “leaks”prior to leaving office, directing an AG to order the Director of the FBI to call the Hillary “investigation” a “matter,” allowing Bill Clinton to make AG Lowretched Flynch an offer she couldn’t refuse on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport, running guns with Eric ‘In-Contempt-of-Congress” Holder and Hillary had her numerous crimes clearly delineated by Obongo’s FBI Director before he let her off finding “no intent.”

    Trillions upon trillions of dollars fill the Swamp.

    The ruling class doesn’t want its swamp drained.

    President Trump needs to be a true statesmen and fire Mueller.

    If the election of President Trump by the People does not prevail, corruption – the coup d’etat, will.

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