U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox News Thursday to explain why he recused himself from investigations on the Trump campaign after allegations that he lied to Congress about his own relations with a Russian ambassador.
Carlson began with a question, asking, "Why did no one on your staff come to you and say, 'Hey, we had conversations with the Russian ambassador, perhaps we should amend our statement to the Senate' in order to avoid the problems that Mike Flynn had?"
"The question that came to me from Senator Franken [D-Minn.]," Sessions answered, "he went into great length saying that that day a news story had come out and said that various Trump surrogates were meeting continually with Russian officials as part of the campaign. And he raised that question with me, and my answer went straight to that. It was the first time I had heard that, so I focused on that. I had not had any such meetings, was not meeting with any Russian officials, on a continuing basis to advance any campaign agenda."
Sometime before that, I had met, in my office, and in an official way, with the Russian ambassador, and so, that was the answer I gave, and I think it was an honest answer, Tucker, I thought I was responding exactly to that question, and it really became a big brouhaha. And I was glad to have a chance to respond today and explain it.
"I guess, my question," Carlson continued, thinking that his question had been answered. "I understand all that, and I take you at your word, that you meant that you had not contacted, or had any contact with the Russian government or its representatives in your capacity as an adviser to the Trump campaign. My point though, again, is that a little over two weeks later, the national security adviser has to resign because of conversations that he had also in his capacity as a non-surrogate for the campaign, with the very same ambassador. So did anyone on your staff say to you, 'Holy smokes, perhaps we should clarify this because you could see how it could be a problem.'
"No, I never gave that a thought," Sessions answered. "Never considered it. I don't believe anyone ever mentioned it to me. Quite different circumstances to me, Tucker, unrelated. I had a meeting in my office with two senior staffers, both retired military people, non-political, and we had a meeting with some 25 ambassadors in recent months, while I was a senator, and the Russian ambassador was just one of them."
Carlson later asked Sessions to explain why he recused himself from Trump campaign investigations.
"Recusal is not an admission of any wrongdoing," Sessions explained. "It's simply that whether or not you can be perceived as fairly deciding a case or evaluating a case. And so I committed to doing that after I became attorney general, and I've only been there three weeks. We met with professional staff, ethics people, to discuss this issue and we had a full meeting a week or so again. We planned to have a meeting today, it was on our schedule to make a final decision about whether or not I should recuse myself. And the reason I believe that I should recuse myself is because I was involved in the campaign to a degree I think it would have been perceived as that I wouldn't be objective in participating in an investigation that might involve the campaign."
"I do not confirm or deny any investigation," he concluded, "I just felt like I should clear the air and we were moving toward that end even before this latest flap."
President Trump released a statement via Facebook supporting Sessions and blaming Democrats for the "total witch hunt."