17:57, January 04 206 0 abajournal.com

2018-01-04 17:57:04
2 House Republicans in op-ed call for Sessions to step down over Russia investigation

Two Republican lawmakers have called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down over his handling of the investigation into how Russia may have interfered in the 2016 presidential election, according to reports from CNN and Politico on Thursday.

Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio made their case in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, stating that if Sessions can’t control leaks related to the probe, then he should resign.

“If Sessions can’t address this issue immediately, then we have one final question needing an answer: When is it time for a new Attorney General?” they wrote. “Sadly, it seems the answer is now.”

Meadows chairs the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans aligned with the tea party movement; Jordan is a past chair. In the op-ed, they argue that the investigation is “manufactured hysteria” that has turned up “zero (yes, zero) evidence of collusion” between the campaign of President Donald Trump and Russia.

Nonetheless, they say, anonymous sources continue to leak information to the press. DOJ officials are prohibited from talking to the press about ongoing investigations, they say.

In the op-ed, Meadows and Jordan also argue that a recent New York Times piece on the role of Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos made no sense. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to FBI agents about his contacts with Russia in his role with the campaign. The Times reported that Papadopoulos, while drinking heavily, gave incriminating evidence about those contacts that made its way back to the FBI. But Meadows and Jordan argue that this doesn’t make sense because the FBI’s investigation into it was slow.

Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation due to his involvement with the Trump campaign. That recusal followed news that Sessions had omitted to mention two meetings with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when questioned under oath during Senate confirmation hearings. Authority over the investigation then passed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Because of the recusal, Sessions can’t interfere in the DOJ’s investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. That has upset Trump’s allies, who have for the past several weeks been calling for an end to that investigation. Some have been calling for Robert Mueller to be fired or investigated, citing members of the special counsel’s team who appeared to oppose Trump and Mueller’s past contacts with fired FBI director James Comey.

As USA Today reported in December, Rosenstein has told Congress he sees no need to fire Mueller.