U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday declined to say during a congressional hearing whether he would recuse himself from an investigation involving Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, but said he continued to honor his recusal agreement for campaign-related issues.
“I have sought advice on those matters. I have not met with the top ethics person on it, but I can assure you I have not violated my recusal,” he told Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy during a hearing on the U.S. Justice Department budget.
Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, had pressed him about Cohen, whose office and home were raided earlier this month after the FBI received a referral from the special counsel investigating whether members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia during the election.
Sessions, a former Republican senator, had agreed to recuse himself from any Justice Department investigation into campaign interference after he worked to help Trump win the election. That agreement has publicly enraged Trump, a fellow Republican.
“I am honoring the recusal in every case and every matter that comes before the Department of Justice,” Sessions said. “It is the policy of the Department of Justice that those who have recused themselves not state the details of it or confirm the investigation or the scope and nature of the investigation.”
He said recusals are typically not made public, a point echoed by Justice Department Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores.
“The attorney general has been clear that his recusal covers ‘any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States’ based on the relevant DOJ regulations. Department officials decline, however, to discuss recusals from specific ongoing investigations because doing so could confirm the existence of ongoing investigations or the scope or nature of those ongoing investigations,” she said in a statement to Reuters.
Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Sessions had not recused himself from the Cohen case.
Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Sarah N. Lynch; editing by G Crosse
Quarantine, racial strife, Trump have Michelle Obama feeling down
Former First Lady Michelle Obama said she is suffering from "low-grade depression" from coronavirus quarantine, racial strife in the United States and the "hypocrisy" of the Trump administration.
Obama made the remarks in the latest episode of "The Michelle Obama Podcast" released on Spotify on Wednesday.
"I'm waking up in the middle of the night because I'm worrying about something or there's a heaviness," the 56-year-old former First Lady said.
"I try to make sure I get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low," she said.
Another watchdog at US State Department abruptly gone
The internal watchdog looking into accusations against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo abruptly quit Wednesday, just months after his predecessor was fired.
The State Department's acting inspector general, Stephen Akard, is a longtime aide to Vice President Mike Pence and his installation in May had widely been seen as a way to keep a friendly figure in the role.
Akard informed colleagues that he is "returning to the private sector after years of public service," a State Department spokesperson said.
"We appreciate his dedication to the Department and to our country."
But Akard's departure comes just as his office finalizes a report on Pompeo's controversial decision to bypass Congress to sell $8.1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies.
Andrea Mitchell knocks Biden for virtual convention speech: ‘How much does that damage the campaign?’
MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell suggested to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Wednesday that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden could "damage" his campaign by holding a virtual convention speech.
Mitchell made the remark after President Donald Trump said that he was considering holding his convention speech at the White House.
"Joe Biden is not going to Milwaukee," Mitchell told Pelosi. "How much does this damage the campaign?"
Pelosi disagreed by insisting that Democrats will hold a "great convention."
Mitchell then asked about Trump's plan to hold his convention speech at the White House.