Homenews

Sessions will do anything to avoid answering a basic question about Trump’s tweets

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During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions yes or no questions about the appropriateness of President Trump’s public efforts to meddle in the work of the Department of Justice. Sessions refused to directly answer.

Conyers began by projecting three tweets Trump posted in recent months calling on the DOJ to investigate Hillary Clinton.

Conyers — alluding to the racial slur Trump used against Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the November 3 tweet — noted, “when Richard Nixon spoke about us that way, at least he had the courtesy to do it behind closed doors.”

Conyers then asked Sessions, “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?”

Sessions dodged the question. He pretended to be unable to understand what Conyers asked him, and then said, “The Department of Justice can never be used to retaliate politically against opponents, and that would be wrong.”

Conyers, alluding to the fact that Sessions did not directly answer the question, responded by saying, “I interpret that as no.”

“My answer stands for itself, I guess,” Sessions said.

Conyers moved on, asking Sessions, “Should the President of the United States make public comments that might influence a pending criminal investigation?”

Sessions again refused to directly answer, merely saying that Trump “should take great care in those issues.”

After Conyers pressed him for a yes or no answer, Sessions said, “Well, I don’t know exactly the facts of what you’re raising and what amounts to the concern you have.”

“I would say it is improper to influence — ah — it would be — a president cannot improperly influence and investigation, and I have not been improperly influenced and would not be improperly influenced,” Sessions continued. “The president speaks his mind. He’s bold and direct about what he says, people elected him, but we do our duty every day based on law and facts.”

Sessions’ testimony about the independence of the DOJ stands in contrast with a letter the department sent to the House Judiciary Committee on Monday. That letter informed members that federal prosecutors are looking into whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times reported that the letter “appeared to be a direct response to Mr. Trump’s statement on Nov. 3, when he said he was disappointed with his beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and that longstanding unproven allegations about the Clintons and the Obama administration should be investigated.”

As the time Conyers was allotted to question Sessions drew to a close, he noted that at his confirmation hearing, Sessions promised to recuse himself from any investigations involving Hillary Clinton.

Conyers noted the DOJ’s letter and asked, “Are you recused from investigations that involve Secretary Clinton?”

Sessions again refused to answer, saying that “under the politics of the Department of Justice, to announce recusal in any investigation would reveal the existence of that investigation.”


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