Two top Republicans in the House on Thursday morning indicated that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should consider recusing himself from investigations related to Russia given the revelation that he failed to disclose two meetings with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that it would be “easier” for Sessions to recuse himself, and later told “Fox and Friends” that he never called on Sessions to recuse himself from Russia probes.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said in a tweet that Sessions should clarify his comments about contacts with Russia during his confirmation hearing and said that the attorney should recuse himself, appearing to refer to probes into any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) March 2, 2017
McCarthy initially said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that it would make sense for Sessions to recuse himself from Russia probes.
When first asked, McCarthy referred to comments made by Sessions on Thursday morning, and said that the attorney general offered to recuse himself. However, Sessions only pledged to recuse himself “whenever it’s appropriate.”
Asked again if Sessions should recuse himself, McCarthy replied, “I think the trust of the American people — you recuse yourself in these situations.”
“I don’t have all of the information in front of me. I don’t want to pre-judge, but I just think for any investigation going forward you want to make sure everybody trusts the investigation — that there is no doubt within the investigation,” McCarthy said when asked again if Sessions should recuse himself.
Asked finally if he would urge the attorney general to recuse himself, McCarthy responded, “I think it’d be easier from that standpoint, yes.”
However, McCarthy did not condemn Sessions actions and comments and argued that lawmakers meet with ambassadors all the time.
“I could see in his role as senator, yes, meeting with different ambassadors. I just think he needs to clarify what these meetings were and when did he have them,” he said on “Morning Joe.”
Later, on “Fox and Friends,” McCarthy denied that he called for Sessions’ recusal.
“I’m not calling on him to recuse himself. I was asked on ‘Morning Joe’ if he needs to recuse himself as [sic] going forward. And as you just heard attorney general sessions said he would recuse himself going forward appropriate [sic], and that’s all my answer was,” McCarthy said on Fox News. “It’s amazing how people spin things so quickly.
Several Democratic lawmakers have called on Sessions to either resign or recuse himself from investigations related to Russia.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Wednesday night indicated he would consider suggesting Sessions recuse himself.
“I don’t know that there’s anything between the Trump campaign and the Russians. I’m not going to base my decision based on newspaper articles,” he said during a CNN town hall. “If there is something there, and it goes up the chain of investigation, it is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about Trump.”
This post has been updated.