Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stepped away from his duties with the Justice Department as it pertains to any investigations into Russian election interference.
Sessions handed over the reins for that investigation to Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente, who will oversee all aspects of the ongoing investigation.
Sessions had faced criticisms from the Democrats over alleged improper contacts with the Russians while a senator.
Sessions admitted to having had a meeting in his office with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, but says it was in his capacity as a senator and completely unrelated to the campaign.
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Deputy Attorney General Boente, appointed by Obama and promoted to U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, Virginia, in 2015, would eventually vacate that position once U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, a Republican, is confirmed. That hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions has also stated that he’s recusing himself from “any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.”
The Justice Department has the option to appoint an independent special counsel to oversee any inquiries, which is what Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and other Democrats are demanding. However, if it were up to Schumer, he’d demand Jeff Sessions’ resignation.
According to CNBC, “Special counsels are appointed only in the most sensitive cases. There hasn’t even been one since Pat Fitzgerald wrapped up his investigation of who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame during George W. Bush’s presidency.”
Three days before the presidential election, Sessions co-wrote an editorial column on Fox News’ website calling on Loretta Lynch, the attorney general at the time, to appoint a special counsel to investigate Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Sessions wrote, “We are concerned about the egregious damage that has been inflicted on two revered government agencies: the Department of Justice and Department of State.”
Sessions also said during a CNBC interview the next day, “You should never politicize criminal investigations or prosecutions. She knows who appointed her, and she knows whose pleasure she serves at. So, we need an independent person, a person that’s not politically connected.”
On Thursday, in an interview with Fox News, Sessions said this about his ongoing investigation: “The process will just have to play out.”
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