Sessions declines to recuse himself from probe into Trump lawyer

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he shared President Donald Trump's "frustrations" with the special counsel probe and called for it to wrap up. If this is true, it's a blatant violation of Sessions' promise to the American people.

Trump's ire was further provoked more recently after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the office and home of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. According to court documents, Cohen "is being investigated for criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings".

Asked by a House Appropriations panel about GOP accusations of surveillance abuse, Sessions told lawmakers that the Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: "US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE probe proved that it was a bad idea to appoint special counsels "willy-nilly".

"When questions arise, even if misplaced, we will take necessary action to establish that the concerns are either not true or take strong action against any wrongdoing", Sessions said. But when Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., noted that almost two decades ago after President Bill Clinton pardoned controversial figure Marc Rich before leaving office, Sessions insisted that such presidential pardons should be made only after consulting with the Justice Department.

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He then criticized as shocking several pardons issued during the Clinton administration.

Following reports earlier this week that Sessions did not recuse himself in the Cohen case, Sessions would not comment on the matter when asked publicly for the first time, beyond saying he's sought advice from ethics officials, though not the Justice Department's top ethics official.

The news media will be allowed to attend, but the Department of Justice says he will not take questions after his formal speech, which is not open to the public. "That would be inappropriate", he continued. The attorney general said an answer could inappropriately reveal the scope or other details of an investigation.

"Sen. Leahy, that calls for a speculative answer, your question calls for speculation, I'm just not able to do that", Sessions responded.