Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Justice Department Rules Require Sessions to Recuse Himself From Flynn Investigation

Senate Minority Leader Schumer is calling on Attorney General Sessions to recuse himself from the investigation into former National Security Adviser Flynn’s dealings with Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Schumer points to the Justice Department rule barring any Member of the Department from participating in an Investigation “if he has a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution or any person or . . . has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.”

Trump has an interest that would be affected by the Investigation, and that’s if he wasn’t substantially involved in the conduct in question, which is far from certain. And Sessions isn’t just a Trump appointee:

During the Campaign, Sessions was identified by the Trump Campaign and by Trump himself as a Key Adviser. Sessions was the first Senator to endorse Trump, frequently appeared with him on the Campaign Trail and even served on the same Campaign Council as Flynn. Would he be able to impartially lead an Inquiry into potential wrongdoing by the Team that Appointed him to his current post and with whom he has been closely allied? Certainly, the appearance of bias is unavoidable.

There’s recent precedent for demanding that an Attorney General bow out of an Investigation. It was a case where the connections between the Attorney General and the subject of the Investigation were far more tenuous, and Jeff Sessions was one of the people making the demand:
As then, Sen. Sessions wrote, with others, in calling for the recusal of then, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in the matter of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s emails: “When a high public official is accused of serious wrongdoing and there is a sufficient factual predicate to investigate it is imperative the investigation be thorough, with dispatch and without partisanship. . . . The appropriate response when the subject matter is public and it arises in a highly-charged political atmosphere is for the Attorney General to appoint a Special Counsel of great public stature and indisputable independence to assure the public the matter will be handled without partisanship.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions should take the words of Sen. Jeff Sessions to heart.

This is an early test for Sessions. Will he try to look like a principled Attorney General who intends to follow the Rules and uphold the Law, or will he be fine with everyone knowing he’s just there to be Trump’s guy?

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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