Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that he will recuse himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, which would include any Russian interference in the electoral process. Speaking at a hastily called news conference at the Justice Department, Sessions said he was following the recommendation of department ethics officials after an evaluation of the rules and cases in which he might have a conflict. “They said that since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation,” Sessions said. He added that he concurred with their assessment and would thus recuse himself from any existing or future investigation involving President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
The announcement comes a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and did not disclose that to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in January.
It also represents a departure from Sessions’s previous statements, including one on Monday, when he declined to say whether he would recuse himself. “I would recuse myself on anything I should recuse myself on,” Sessions said then. “That’s all I can tell you.”
Democrats have been calling for him to do so for weeks; on Thursday, after publication of The Post’s article, some high-level Republicans joined them. At his news conference, Sessions offered a new explanation: that discussions about his recusal had begun before the revelation of his meetings with Kislyak, that he and ethics officials had agreed on Monday to meet for a final time Thursday, and that at that final meeting he had accepted their recommendation.