UPDATED: No, corporate media, Jeff Sessions did not offer to recuse himself this morning
[SEE UPDATE BELOW] Despite how it was reported by NBC and The Hill, Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not immediately offer to recuse himself from investigating Donald Trump's Russia ties following the new reporting on Sessions' meeting with the Russian ambassador.
In light of revelations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States last year — contrary to testimony he provided under oath during his confirmation hearing — Democrats and Republicans in Congress are calling for him to recuse himself from investigating Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
As Attorney General, Sessions oversees the Department of Justice and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and ties between Trump associates and Russia.
Given that Sessions specifically told Congress, “I did not have communications with the Russians,” and we know now that he did in fact have such communications, many Democrats are also calling for Sessions’ resignation.
Session was asked this morning if he would recuse himself, and he responded by reiterating what every Attorney General always says about recusals: “I’ve said whenever it’s appropriate, I will recuse myself.”
SESSIONS: Well, I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign. And those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false. And I don’t have anything else to say about that.
REPORTER: What about the calls to recuse yourself from your agency’s probe of the…
SESSIONS: Well, I’ve said whenever it’s appropriate, I will recuse myself. There’s no doubt about that.
Sessions made no specific offer — he simply repeated what “I’ve said” all along, and did not indicate that this would be an instance in which he would recuse himself. He only said he would do so “whenever it was appropriate.”
Yet here is how the corporate media is reporting what Sessions said:
NBC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: AG Sessions says ‘I will recuse myself’ if necessary from Russia investigation https://t.co/cZhEm42TF6
— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) March 2, 2017
— The Hill (@thehill) March 2, 2017
The rush to give Sessions credit for moving in the right direction ethically when he has not done so, does our ethical standards, and the public, a discredit.
UPDATE: In a press conference, Sessions has now stated he will recuse himself from Justice Department investigations into the Trump campaign and Russia:
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) March 2, 2017
We evaluated the rules of ethics and recusal. I have considered the issues at stake. In fact, on Monday of this week, we set a meeting with an eye to a final decision on this question, and on Monday, we set that meeting today. So, this was a day that we planned to have a final discussion about handling this. I asked for their candid and honest opinion about what I should do about investigations, certain investigations, and my staff recommended recusal. They said that since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation. I have studied the rules and considered their comments and evaluations. I believe those recommendations are right and just. Therefore, I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign. The exact language of that recusal is in the press release that we will give to you.