Sessions is a witness

Aha. So Trump is fashioning a rod for his own back.

In March 2017 Trump berated Jeff Sessions and told him he should rescind his recusal from the Russia investigation, and Sessions refused.

The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as are the president’s public and private attacks on Mr. Sessions and efforts to get him to resign. Mr. Trump dwelled on the recusal for months, according to confidants and current and former administration officials who described his behavior toward the attorney general.

He did some of that in public, on Twitter. Anyway, how interesting that Mueller is investigating. That hints that he could be investigating Trump’s current attempted obstruction by raging and lying about Mueller and the investigation every day on Twitter. Dig dig dig that hole.

The special counsel’s interest demonstrates Mr. Sessions’s overlooked role as a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself. It also suggests that the obstruction investigation is broader than it is widely understood to be — encompassing not only the president’s interactions with and firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, but also his relationship with Mr. Sessions.

We’ve always hoped it was that wide. Certainly there’s been plenty of discussion of how obstruction-oriented Trump’s behavior has been.

Investigators have pressed current and former White House officials about Mr. Trump’s treatment of Mr. Sessions and whether they believe the president was trying to impede the Russia investigation by pressuring him. The attorney general was also interviewed at length by Mr. Mueller’s investigators in January. And of the four dozen or so questions Mr. Mueller wants to ask Mr. Trump, eight relate to Mr. Sessions. Among them: What efforts did you make to try to get him to reverse his recusal?

Giuliani, of course, is already on tv saying it’s perfectly fine for Trump to try to make Sessions unrecuse himself.

Mr. Trump complains to friends about how much he would like to get rid of Mr. Sessions but has demurred under pressure from Senate Republicans who have indicated they would not confirm a new attorney general.

“Demurred”? No. “Been talked out of it.”

When Mr. Trump learned of the recusal, he asked advisers whether the decision could be reversed, according to people briefed on the matter. Told no, Mr. Trump argued that Eric H. Holder Jr., President Barack Obama’s first attorney general, would never have recused himself from a case that threatened to tarnish Mr. Obama. The president said he expected the same loyalty from Mr. Sessions.

What an idiot.

Prosecutors rarely go back on recusals. Legal experts said that occasionally, prosecutors who handed off a case to colleagues over concerns about a possible financial conflict of interest would take the decision back after confirming none existed. But the experts said they could think of no instance in which a prosecutor stepped aside from a case in circumstances similar to Mr. Sessions’s. Justice Department guidelines on recusal are in place to prevent the sort of political meddling the president tried to engage in, they said.

In other words Trump’s putting the screws on Sessions to get him to go back on the recusal is just more reason Sessions had to recuse himself. Trump’s bullying was more reason to recuse as opposed to a reason to unrecuse. Trump might as well have said “you have to unrecuse yourself because I need to meddle in the investigation with your help.” Maybe he did say that.

As the months wore on, Mr. Trump returned again and again to the recusal.

In July, he told The New York Times that he never would have nominated Mr. Sessions if he had known that Mr. Sessions would not oversee the Russia investigation. Two days later, a Washington Post report about Mr. Sessions’s campaign discussions with Russia’s ambassador sent Mr. Trump into another rage. Aboard Marine One that Saturday, the president told his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to get Mr. Sessions to resign by the end of the weekend, according to a person briefed on the conversation.

Unnerved and convinced the president wanted to install a new attorney general who could oversee the Russia investigation, Mr. Priebus called Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff at the time, Jody Hunt, who said that the president would have to ask Mr. Sessions himself to resign. Unsure how to proceed, Mr. Priebus simply waited out the president, who never called Mr. Sessions but did attack him that week on Twitter.

Days later, Mr. Priebus was out as chief of staff. The special counsel has told the president’s lawyers that he wants to ask Mr. Trump about those discussions with Mr. Priebus and why he publicly criticized Mr. Sessions.

Trump should get on the phone with Mueller and offer him cash to drop the whole thing. That should work.

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