A former Department of Justice official expressed alarm over a “damning report” showing that President Donald Trump was angry at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
Matthew Miller, a former communications director for the Justice Department and spokesman for former attorney general Eric Holder, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Trump’s frustration strongly suggested he wanted Sessions to oversee a cover-up.
“I thought that was a pretty damning report for the president,” Miller said. “Why would the president care if Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation or not unless he wanted him to exert inappropriate influence over it. It shouldn’t really matter who’s leading the investigation unless you want the person in charge to somehow steer it in a way that benefits you.”
Sessions recused himself in March from overseeing the FBI investigation into possible Trump campaign ties to Russia after his secret meetings with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were revealed.
“We’ve talked a lot on this show about how this is a president that doesn’t respect the basic norms and traditions, doesn’t respect the basic rule of law, and I actually think this is a sign, along with his firing of (FBI director) Jim Comey, that it’s worse than that,” Miller said. “He actually actively chafes against the norms that are supposed to constrain him and wants to trample all over the rule of law.”
Miller said the attorney general had no other option but to recuse himself after he became a potential target of the investigation after failing to notify Congress that he’d met with Russian official during the campaign.
“The Justice Department rules are black and white,” Miller said. “He had to recuse himself from this investigation because of his role on the campaign.”
Miller said the next few days could reshape the direction of the Russia investigation, after Congress questions deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday and Comey on Thursday.
“They’ll probably both be asked about what did Rod Rosenstein know, what did Jeff Sessions know about why Jim Comey was fired,” Miller said. “If Rosenstein knew it was over the Russian investigation, he’ll have to recuse himself and Mueller will have to report to someone else, probably a career official at DOJ.”