President Trump instructed White House lawyers to persuade Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, according to The New York Times. The lawyers attempted to persuade Sessions to remain involved in the investigation by citing two reasons: 1) He did not need to step away from the investigation until it was further along, and 2) It would not stop Democrats from saying Sessions had lied repeatedly about meetings with Russian officials during the campaign, specifically with Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.
According to the Times, it was White House Counsel Don McGahn who made the effort to persuade Sessions. But by the time McGahn approached Sessions about the issue, Sessions’ mind was made up. He told McGahn that career Justice Department officials had advised him to step aside. McGahn said he understood and relented.
The move led to several angry eruptions from Donald Trump who was furious with Sessions for recusing himself. According to sources, Trump expected his Attorney General to protect him the same way, he believes, Robert F. Kennedy protected John F. Kennedy, and Eric Holder protected Barack Obama.
“When you look at the I.R.S. scandal, when you look at the guns for whatever, when you look at all of the tremendous, aah, real problems they had, not made-up problems like Russian collusion, these were real problems,” President Trump said, speaking of Obama and Holder. “When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest.”