By now, most people know that Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in January after his longtime attorney general recused himself from any role in the investigation after revelations that he had had a secret meeting with Russia’s ambassador to the US.
But the Trump administration has not been shy about continuing to defend Sessions as the man they think has done the right thing.
On Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was asked if the president had any regrets about how he handled the Russia probe.
“No, I don’t regret it at all,” Priebus replied.
“We will have a president who will do what’s right for the American people.”
The president is now weighing his options and weighing in on a potentially explosive situation involving his own Attorney General.
When Trump met with the Russian ambassador last month, he made it clear that the two countries would need to go through a full vetting process before they could even talk to each other.
The two sides agreed to a brief meeting on January 6, after which Sessions and Kislyak made a brief brief, non-confidential call, according to a transcript of the call obtained by the Washington Post.
It is not clear exactly what the call contained.
The transcript does not state that Sessions told Kislyak that the Trump campaign had no contacts with the Russians.
But Sessions did say he did not believe there was any “collusion” between the Trump campaigns and Russia.
He added that he did “not think the Trump camp did anything wrong.”
He later said he did speak with Kislyak about the meeting because he thought the Russians had given him assurances about the legality of the meeting.
But a transcript provided to the Post by a source who has reviewed it says the two had not discussed Trump’s campaign or his personal finances.
The president’s attorney general, Marc Kasowitz, has been leading the administration’s defense of Sessions.
Last week, Kasowitz defended the attorney general’s recusal from the investigation by saying that “there is no collusion between the campaign and the Russian government.”
Kasowitz has said that he does not think the president “ordered” the meeting with the ambassador, which took place shortly after the presidential inauguration in January.
The Times also reported that Sessions spoke with Kislyak twice about the possibility of pardoning Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who was fired for lying to the FBI about conversations he had with the Kremlin.
The White House has defended the meeting as merely a conversation between Sessions and the ambassador.
On Wednesday, Kasowsky called the White House’s denial of the possibility that Flynn had anything to do with Russia “utterly preposterous.”
“This is not collusion,” Kasowitz said.
“This isn’t collusion between any foreign government and the Trump team.”
Trump has defended Sessions, calling the Russia story a “phony” and saying that he “doesn’t know anything” about the attorney General’s role in it.
On Monday, he told NBC News that he would recuse his own attorney general and “we’re going to get rid of Jeff Sessions.”
“We’ll have the best Attorney General in the world.
He’ll be our attorney general,” he said.
The Trump administration’s argument has always been that Sessions should have been removed from the FBI and DOJ as a matter of protocol.
The attorney general did not resign during the presidential campaign because of the FBI’s investigation into his campaign, but the president was still concerned about his former campaign adviser’s possible ties to Russia.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Trump told reporters that he was “very disappointed” in Sessions.
“I was very disappointed with the fact that I got the recommendation that I did not recuse myself.
I think that’s absolutely disgraceful,” he told reporters.
“And I think I would have done the same thing.”