Shortly after President Trump expressed “total” confidence in his attorney general, Jeff Sessions announced he would recuse himself “from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.” That statement came as Sessions faces criticism from Democratic lawmakers following reports that he did not disclose contacts he had with the Russian ambassador during his confirmation hearing last month.
Earlier on Thursday, Trump told reporters he did not think Sessions, a former campaign adviser, needed to step aside, his opinion standing in stark contrast to that of several top congressional Republicans. They had called for Sessions to recuse himself from the reported federal investigation into potential ties between Trump associates and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. Meanwhile, a chorus of congressional Democrats has called on him to resign from his post. A Washington Post report published Wednesday evening set off the controversy, by detailing two encounters between Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak last year.
Trump has publicly stood by his attorney general, who previously served as an Alabama senator. According to a report from the White House press pool, when Trump was asked if he still has “confidence in the attorney general,” he replied: “Total.” Pressed on whether Sessions should recuse himself, Trump said, “I don’t think so.” The president added that he “wasn’t aware of” Sessions’s contact with the ambassador “at all,” but added that he believes Sessions “probably” testified truthfully.