Trump to attorney: Stop Sessions from recusing himself in Russia probe, sources say
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
The New York Times News Service
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump gave firm instructions in March to the White House’s top lawyer: stop the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, from recusing himself in the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Trump’s associates had helped a Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election.
Public pressure was building for Sessions, who had been a senior member of the Trump campaign, to step aside. But the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, carried out the president’s orders and lobbied Sessions to remain in charge of the inquiry, according to two people with knowledge of the episode.
McGahn was unsuccessful, and the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Trump said he had expected his top law enforcement official to safeguard him the way he believed Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, had done for his brother John F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. had for Barack Obama.
Trump then asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s and died in 1986.
The lobbying of Sessions is one of several previously unreported episodes that the special counsel, Robert S.
In this June 21, 2017 file photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Mueller III, has learned about as he investigates whether Trump obstructed the FBI’s Russia inquiry. The events occurred during a two-month period — from when Sessions recused himself in March until the appointment of Mueller […]