During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI Director James Comey said there are facts that would make Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ involvement in the Russia investigation “problematic.” However, he couldn’t discuss those facts in a public setting.
In the testimony released on Wednesday, Comey said that he and the other leaders in the FBI decided not to tell Sessions about Trump’s request in February to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn since they believed Sessions was about to recuse himself from investigations linked to Russia.
During the hearing, Comey was asked what it was about Sessions’ interactions with the Russians that made his team decide not to discuss Trump’s request with the attorney general.
“Our judgement, as I recall, was that he was very close to and inevitably was going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. We also were aware of facts that I can’t disclose in a public setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic,” Comey said. “And so we were convinced – and in fact, I believe we’d already heard – that the career people were recommending he recuse himself and that he was not going to be in contact with Russia-related matters much longer. And that turned out to be the case.”
On March 2, Sessions recused himself from Russia investigations. Sessions agreed to recuse himself after it was revealed that he met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice before Trump won the 2016 presidential election and did not disclose theses meetings during his Senate confirmation hearings. Kislyak is the same Russian diplomat Flynn spoke with in December about President Barack Obama’s sanctions before Trump’s inauguration. Flynn was forced to resign for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of those calls.
Comey wrote in the statement released on Wednesday that he did later speak with Sessions after the February meeting with Trump, but the Flynn matter was not brought up. Instead, the topic was Trump’s concerns about leaks to the media. Comey said he asked Sessions to make sure that there were no more meetings between Trump and himself, calling these “inappropriate” because the FBI director reports to the attorney general, not the president.
On June 6, two sources told the Washington Post and ABC News that Sessions offered to resign recently because Sessions’ decision to recuse himself has caused a rift between Trump and the attorney general. Trump only learned about the decision moments before Sessions’ announcement. However, Sessions has remained on as A.G.