Republicans Say Sessions Should Recuse Himself

by Ann-Derrick Gaillot
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Coretta Scott King and Elizabeth Warren couldn't keep Jeff Sessions from becoming Attorney General. But the former Alabama senator's alleged failure to disclose his 2016 meetings with a Russian ambassador could end up being his ticket out of Donald Trump's cabinet. Several members of Congress are calling for him to recuse himself from investigations into Russian intelligence, and it's not just Democrats either. Even Republicans are asking Sessions to recuse himself, making for a huge rift on the GOP side of the aisle.

The Washington Post broke the news of Sessions' meetings on Mar. 1. And if the Trump administration, which has faced numerous staffing issues already, has any hope of saving face in its own party, it'll have to act fast. It's one thing for the administration to ignore the demands of Democrats. It's a whole other for it to do so to Republicans. (Although it's not as if the White House and the Republican members of Congress were all already on the same page anyway.)

Of everything dividing Trump and the GOP, it might be that their inability to work together to get to the bottom of Russian influence in his administration will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Here are the Republicans that are calling for Sessions to recuse himself before things get any worse.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy

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One day after the news about Sessions broke, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy shared his opinion on the incident with MSNBC's Morning Joe. The California representative said that Sessions "needs to clarify what these meetings were and when did he have them," adding that an investigation into Russian hacking would be "easier" if Sessions just recused himself.

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador

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CNN's Manu Raju reported on Mar. 2 that Idaho Rep. and House Judiciary Committee member Raúl R. Labrador told him and other reporters that "It's time for Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from this Russia investigation." According to Raju, Labrador, like McCarthy, believes that Sessions' involvement would only threaten the integrity of the investigation and Sessions' recusing himself just "makes sense."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz didn't wait for a news anchor's question to share his recommendation for Sessions. But he and McCarthy share similar sentiments. Chaffetz took to Twitter early on Mar. 2 to suggest that Sessions recuse himself. And considering Chaffetz is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, his tweet definitely holds some weight.

Rep. Barbara Comstock

Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock also used Twitter to speak out on Sessions. In her statement she refers to the fact that AGs have recused themselves before, specifically citing when Eric Holder recused himself from a 2013 investigation into the Justice Department's seizures of Associated Press phone records.

Sen. Rob Portman

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According to The Hill, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman called Sessions "a former colleague and a friend," but stated that he believes that the attorney general recusing himself from the DOJ's investigation "would be best for him and for the country."

Rep. Darrell Issa

California Rep. Darrell Issa has been calling for Sessions to recuse himself since before the Washington Post article. He said so loud and clear during a Feb. 24 appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher. He reiterated that opinion in a Mar. 2 statement to BuzzFeed News, saying, "I called for his recusal last Friday. ... I was already there."

Rep. Martha McSally

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally kept it short and to the point in her statement to The Hill's Scott Wong.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman said in a statement that it would be "more than prudent" for Sessions to recuse himself.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

In his statement, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo left the possibility that Sessions misspoke open, but still called for the Attorney General to recuse himself.

Rep. Brian Mast

Florida Rep. Brian Mast called for Sessions to recuse himself. But he also went a step further than most of his fellow GOP members, suggesting the possibility of Sessions' resignation.

Sen. Susan Collins

During Sessions' Senate hearings, Maine Sen. Susan Collins came out strongly in favor of his confirmation, calling him "a dedicated public servant and a decent man." Still, she released a statement saying he should recuse himself to "ensure public confidence in the Justice Department's investigation."

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen

New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen has called for Sessions to "at the very least" recuse himself, but not resign or be investigated. On the flip side, in 1999 Frelinghuysen voted for Clinton to be impeached on grounds of perjury.

Rep. Charlie Dent

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent has proven unafraid to be critical of Trump and his administration's policies. He too is calling for Sessions to recuse himself.

Other GOP members, like South Carolina Sen Lindsey Graham, seem to be waiting for more information. During a Mar. 1 appearance on CNN, Graham said that Sessions should recuse himself if the FBI finds he had illegal contact with Russian officials. But he wouldn't go as far as saying the Washington Post article was credible.

Even more Republicans may ask Sessions to recuse himself as news of his meetings unfolds. But so far, only Democrats have called for Sessions to resign completely. As for the AG's perspective on the matter, he told NBC News, "whenever it's appropriate, I will recuse myself."