As more attention turns toward the investigations into possible connections between President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has hired a personal lawyer. The National Law Journal reported that the office of Charles "Chuck" Cooper confirmed in a statement released Tuesday that he will be representing Sessions.
An established, well-known conservative lawyer and friend of Sessions (who advised him prior to his attorney general confirmation hearings), Cooper reportedly also attended Sessions' congressional testimony the week before as his personal counsel. Though he initially declined to comment further on the full extent of his representation of Sessions and whether it extended to the Russian investigation, NBC News later reported that Cooper was, in fact, retained for that purpose.
The decision to retain private counsel isn't all that shocking as numerous big names in the White House have done the same in recent months. President Trump (and his own personal lawyer), Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump's son-in-law-turned-senior advisor Jared Kushner have each hired lawyers of his own.
Jeff Sessions hired a big time lawyer in Chuck Cooper to represent him. Here's the FOIA we filed to see if the gov't is picking up the tab. pic.twitter.com/zFRGsUM9Rh— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) June 20, 2017
This step comes months after Sessions recused himself from investigations into Russian involvement in the election at the advice of his staff in March of 2017. Sessions denied having meetings with "Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries" and called any allegations of collusion "totally false."
Still, former FBI Director James Comey (who was abruptly fired following a letter from Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein) suggested in his own testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee that, any involvement from Sessions in Russian investigations would be "problematic." However, he stated that was unable to discuss the facts "in an open setting,"
Comey: there are "facts I can't discuss in an open setting" that make Jeff Sessions' involvement in the Russia investigation "problematic." pic.twitter.com/lVItoB0occ— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) June 8, 2017
As for Sessions' choice of representation, Cooper's resume makes him an ideal pick for the former Alabama senator. His background includes handling various appellate cases including both defending the now-defunct same-sex marriage ban in California (Proposition 8) and representing the National Rifle Association's campaign finance fund against Federal Election Commission regulations. He was also named the 2010 Republican Lawyer of the year by the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA).
Notably, Cooper was also previously considered for the role of solicitor general but withdrew his name from consideration stating that he was "unwilling to subject" himself, his family, and his friends to the confirmation process after witnessing Sessions' hearings.
As investigations deepen and more details emerge, it's clear that this isn't the last we'll hear from the ever-growing crowd of lawyers.