U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was quick to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. It is a decision that caused him to lose favor with Donald Trump, who famously said that he never would have appointed Sessions as attorney general if he had known the recusal was going to happen.
Since then, Sessions has been the target of barbs, harsh criticisms and rumored name-calling by the president. That makes it hard to understand why, according to a report by Bloomberg, Sessions is declining to recuse himself from an investigation of Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.
A person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that while Sessions has decided against recusing himself from the Cohen investigation, he will consider
avoiding “stepping back” from specific questions tied to the investigation.
So why not recuse himself?
Either Sessions is setting himself up to get back into Trump’s good graces or he is setting up the ultimate checkmate against his mortal enemy.
Allow me to explain.
The Cohen investigation is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York—a part of the U.S. Department of Justice. As the big boss at the DOJ, Sessions is entitled to briefings on the status of the investigation.
Theoretically, that could make him Trump’s eyes and ears in the investigation. It ultimately would not benefit Trump because he cannot fire any of the prosecutors involved in the Cohen investigation.
Giving Trump information about the investigation would only serve as a means of getting back on speaking terms with the president. And that is when we have to wonder whether getting back in good with the president is more important to Sessions than being petty and getting back at the man who has been making his life hell for the past year.
If Sessions wanted to get back at Trump, this investigation would be a big way to do it.
Another perk to being the big boss at the Justice Department is that Sessions might be able to have a say on things like subpoenas and indictments in the Cohen investigation.
Basically, it would be the ultimate petty checkmate if Sessions were to flex a little bit and stick his nose in the Cohen investigation. It would certainly make Trump squirm, and that’s all I’m here for.
In the meantime, the DOJ is playing it very straight when it comes to the question of Sessions recusing himself.
In a statement, the department said, “The attorney general considers his potential recusal on a matter-by-matter basis as may be needed. To the extent a matter comes to the attention of his office that may warrant consideration of recusal, the attorney general would review the issue and consult with the appropriate department ethics experts.”
It is worth noting that Geoffrey Berman—the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York—has already recused himself from the Cohen investigation.
So why hasn’t Sessions?
I’m taking bets, rumors, conjecture and speculation in the comments.