! Comey says there was facts that would make Sessions involvement in the Russia investigation “problematic” but he can’t discuss in public pic.twitter.com/H1rNT4SBN1
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 8, 2017
Despite formally recusing himself from all things Russia-related in March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions found himself in hot water when the White House revealed his role in Donald Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Unsurprisingly, the former Alabama senator’s ties to Comey’s ousting, which Trump admitted was partially due to the “great pressure” the Russia investigation was inflicting on him, came up during Thursday’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. And while Comey was unable to discuss certain aspects of Sessions’ involvement due to their being classified, he did say it was “problematic.”
“Our judgment, as I recall, was [Sessions] was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons,” Comey explained to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), who had asked a pointed question about the former FBI head’s published memos. “We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations,” Comey wrote. Yet he didn’t go into detail then, and he avoided spilling any otherwise classified details to Wyden and the committee — though not before implicitly casting shade at Sessions.
“We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting,” he testified, “that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation ‘problematic.’ So we were convinced — and in fact, I think that we’d already heard that the career people were recommending that he recuse himself — that he was not going to be in contact with Russia-related matters much longer. And that turned out to be the case.”
Interestingly, CNN reports that Sessions is not watching Comey’s testimony, while former FBI director turned special prosecutor Robert Mueller is. Sources cited in the story claim Sessions “has an afternoon awards ceremony where he is speaking, so he will be preparing for that,” but that members of the attorney general’s staff will keep him “updated” after the fact. Seeing as how Sessions previously recused himself from all things Russia, however, chances are the ex-Alabama politician has been advised not to keep tabs on Thursday’s hearing for that particular reason.