Updated on March 2 at 1:13 p.m. ET
Republican lawmakers have called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step aside from oversight of the investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Their calls came after recent news reports revealed that the former Alabama senator met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the election.
Ohio’s Rob Portman said late Thursday morning that Sessions should recuse himself, the first Republican senator to say so outright; he was followed later by Maine’s Susan Collins. A growing number of House Republicans have suggested the same, including Representative Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee; Idaho Representative Raúl Labrador; Darrell Issa, the California representative and former Oversight chair; Virginia Representative Barbara Comstock; and Michigan Representative Justin Amash. In an interview on MSNBC, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy indicated Sessions shouldn’t oversee the investigation, though within hours seemed to change his mind.
“I think, the trust of the American people, you recuse yourself in these situations,” McCarthy said. “I just think for any investigation going forward, you want to make sure everybody trusts the investigation … and that there’s not doubt within the investigation.” Reporter Mark Halperin followed up, asking whether the situation required Sessions’s recusal. “I think it would be easier from that standpoint, yes,” McCarthy answered. Later, in an interview with Fox & Friends, McCarthy said that he’s “not calling on him to recuse himself.”