— CNN (@CNN) November 14, 2017
Jeff Sessions appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to mostly discuss collusion with Russia and what George Papadapoulous has told the FBI. It was inevitable, however, that Hillary Clinton would come up at some point during the proceedings, given President Trump’s recent obsession with Clinton and uranium. When asked whether a possible DOJ investigation into the Clinton Foundation would be a retaliatory move made at the behest of the executive, Sessions said that “it would be wrong” if a president made such an order to get revenge.
At this morning’s testimony, ranking Democrat John Conyers asked Sessions if “In a functioning democracy, is it common for the leader of the country to order the criminal justice system to retaliate against his political opponents?” That’s not an unreasonable question given the number of tweets the president has recently made encouraging the FBI to investigate Clinton, for everything from the uranium deal to rigging the primary in her favor. Sessions simply responded, “The Department of Justice can never be used to retaliate politically against opponents and that would be wrong.”
That’s a careful answer that neatly sidesteps similar the fact Trump has made similar comments in the past, albeit while he was still just a candidate. And as the Russia investigation has heated up, Trump and his supporters have a renewed interest in all things Clinton. They’ve tried to turn attention to her alleged wrongdoings and even her own ties to Moscow.
Conyers asked Sessions directly if he, as Attorney General, felt it was right for the President to “make public comments that might influence a pending criminal investigation.” Sessions answered that the “president cannot improperly influence the investigation.” However, if that were a genuine concern it would no doubt require yet another probe to determine if Trump had unfairly pressed the Justice Department. It seems each question asked by Congress begets at least five more.