01:03 - Source: CNN
NYT: Trump ordered WH lawyer to stop Sessions from recusing himself

Editor’s Note: Alice Stewart is a CNN political commentator and former communications director for Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign. The views expressed in this commentary are hers.

CNN —  

Just when you thought Steve Bannon was the loneliest man in Washington, turns out it may actually be Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

On the heels of GOP colleagues’ calls for him to step aside, Sessions was not invited to Camp David with several Cabinet members and Republican leaders. You don’t have to be a “Rocket Man” scientist to presume this public push against Sessions is prompted by the President of the United States.

Alice Stewart
Alice Stewart

I strongly believe Sessions did the right thing in recusing himself from the Russia probe. It is a complete conflict of interest to be investigating a campaign in which he was a significant player.

President Donald Trump clearly feels differently and has publicly criticized Sessions for his decision to distance himself from the Russia investigation. The New York Times now reports Trump asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” when learning of Sessions’ recusal.

Cohn was Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer – Sessions is not.

US Reps. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, didn’t hold back in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner, writing that the attorney general “has no control at all of the premier law enforcement agency in the world.” Adding that “now” is the time for a new attorney general.

Meadows also criticized Sessions for not releasing sufficient documents to the House Intelligence Committee. The Department of Justice has since agreed to provide “all” documents requested.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that it’s time for Sessions to step aside, saying, “We have been weakened in our investigation into very important concerns at the Department of Justice and the FBI.”

In light of the attorney general’s reversal of an Obama-era policy allowing legalized recreational use of marijuana in some states, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, said Sessions broke a pledge to him on this issue and threatened to hold up Justice Department nominees until Session reverses his decision.

The fact that Sessions was not included in the Camp David retreat gives one the impression that he’s not on firm ground with the President. A White House spokesman said Friday, “The press should stop using a long-planned meeting with congressional leaders to take cheap shots at the Attorney General. The White House stands behind him.”

That may be true, but actions speak louder than words.

In talking with a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, I’m told Sessions is not deterred by calls for him to step aside. He is focused on reducing violent crime, addressing the opioid epidemic and reforming our immigration system.

This isn’t a surprise. Sessions is an honorable man who is committed to total fidelity to the laws and Constitution of the United States. As he said in his confirmation hearing, an attorney general “must be willing to tell the president or other top officials no if he or they overreach.”

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    As much as the President hates to hear the words “Russian collusion,” he also hates to hear the word “no.” The attorney general did the right thing in saying “no,” but I fully expect the growing chorus of GOP calls for Sessions to step aside will continue. It’s likely ground cover for a potential pink slip.

    The reality is – you can’t be the nation’s top law enforcer and a personal legal fixer at the same time.