Despite What Jeff Sessions Says, Comey Firing Could Pose Recusal Problem


Publish Date:
June 13, 2017
  • Luperon, Alberto
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On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied that his recusal from the Russia investigation precluded him recommending the firing of FBI Director James Comey. It was well within his authority, he said. But is that true?

The question was raised during the AG’s tense hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. U.S. officials have said since December that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election so President Donald Trump could win.

So, in the midst of all this, Sessions insists he could still properly recommend Comey’s firing. That doesn’t convince Professor Deborah Rhode, who teaches legal ethics at Stanford Law School. She thought the Attorney General shouldn’t have been involved in the FBI Director’s termination.

“I find it deeply problematic given that Trump’s stated reason for firing Comey was the Russia investigation, a matter on which Sessions appropriately recused himself,” Rhode told Sessions’ involvement raised important questions on his judgement and ethics, she said. “I can’t think of a comparable situation in which someone who recused engaged in a similar act.”

This isn’t good enough for Rhode, however, because Sessions can’t prove he was unaware of the president’s reason for firing Comey.

“How is he going to show that?” she said, pointing out that the attorney general cited executive privilege. He simply won’t discuss his conversations with Trump.

Rhode argued that Sessions’ recusal should have extended to Comey’s firing.

“The Attorney General should be above reproach in all ethical issues,” she said.

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