Sessions cited Lynch-Clinton meeting in calling for special prosecutor in email investigation

What Sessions said about Russian contact
What Sessions said about Russian contact

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Story highlights

  • Sessions called on then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch to recuse herself from the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server and to appoint a special prosecutor in the case.
  • Sessions is facing calls from Democrats and Republicans to recuse himself from matters related to Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

(CNN)During the 2016 campaign, Jeff Sessions called on then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch to recuse herself from the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server and to appoint a special prosecutor in the case.

The FoxNews.com op-ed, which was co-written with four other Donald Trump campaign surrogates, including Rudy Giuliani, specifically cited Lynch's meeting with former President Bill Clinton on a tarmac in Phoenix as grounds for her recusal.
Sessions, now the attorney general, is facing calls from Democrats and Republicans to recuse himself from matters related to Russia's interference in the 2016 election after it was revealed on Wednesday that he did not disclose meetings last year with the Russian ambassador during his confirmation hearing.
    Sessions told Senators in his hearing he had not had any contacts with the Russians.
    "Attorney General Lynch and former President Clinton met on the Phoenix, Arizona, tarmac days before Secretary Clinton was to be interviewed by the FBI for possible criminal activity," the November 2016 op-ed reads.
    The co-authors continued, "General Lynch never recused herself from decisions on the Clinton investigation after her self-admitted 'mistake,' as it has also been reported that she continues to deny the FBI the authority to convene a grand jury, which is necessary for any meaningful investigation."
    "Recusal is a formal process," the op-ed further said. "It is a written document specifically describing the scope of the recusal and designating the official in charge of the recused matter. If General Lynch went through the proper procedure for recusal, she has not publicly shared it.
    "Because of our grave concern for integrity in government we ask for a special counsel," the op-ed stated. "When a high public official is accused of serious wrongdoing and there is a sufficient factual predicate to investigate, it is imperative the investigation be thorough, with dispatch and without partisanship.'
    A spokesperson for Sessions did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN about the op-ed.
    Sessions was asked about his op-ed in a questionnaire submitted to him by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. The questionnaire asked, "By the recusal standard that you put forth in that op-ed, is it fair to expect you to recuse yourself from any matters regarding Mr. Trump or his finances?"
    In his written response, Sessions said, "There are significant differences between the issue discussed in the op-ed referenced above and the broad hypothetical presented regarding an investigation into the President. Secretary Clinton was under investigation at the time Attorney General Lynch met with President Clinton. If merely being a supporter of the President's during the campaign warranted recusal from involvement in any matter involving him, then most typical presidential appointees would be unable to conduct their duties.
    "I am not aware of a basis to recuse myself from such matters. If a specific matter arose where I believed my impartiality might reasonably be questioned, I would consult with Department ethics officials regarding the most appropriate way to proceed. As I made clear at my confirmation hearing, I will always be fair and work within the law and the established procedures of the Department."