In a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics defended Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Walter Shaub said, “I need to defend Attorney General Sessions here because he did the right thing.”
“We told DOJ if there’s any chance that he’s part of the class of persons being looked at in this investigation, he must recuse.”
Shaub defended Sessions after President Donald Trump said in an interview with The New York Times that he would not have nominated Sessions if he knew the attorney general would recuse himself from the federal investigations into Russia’s election interference.
Trump told the newspaper, “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.”
Shaub, who left his post at the Government Ethics office this week, claimed that the problem with the White House ethics program is the tone that the president set by not divesting from his business interests.
“It starts with a little thing like the president not divesting his financial interests, which sets a tone from the top that goes cascading down through the executive branch,” Shaub said. “And you wind up in a place where you have a president criticizing a law enforcement official for doing the right thing and staying out of an investigation in which he may or may not be a target. But because there’s any potential at all, they’re going to err on the side of being cautious.”
In January, Trump announced that he would relinquish his businesses to his two oldest sons in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
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