Adjunct Professor Joel Cohen wrote an op-ed in The Hill about President Trump’s conflict with Jeff Sessions regarding Trump-Russia investigation.
[W]hile the president understands the limits on his own ability to recuse, maybe he believes that they apply elsewhere in government positions too.
[P]articularly so, it seems, in the instance of an attorney general who must not only conform to traditional “ethics” rules and regulations applicable to all Cabinet officials but also to legal ethics rules. He is, after all, the nation’s top lawyer.
Put aside that then-Sen. Jeff Sessions stated, at his confirmation hearing, that he would seek advice to avoid a conflict of interest. The basis for his recusal had nothing to do with that statement. As Sessions himself noted, Justice Department regulations alone require recusal when a matter implicates a personal or political relationship with something that must be investigated.
And because Sessions met with Russian diplomats during the campaign[,] … Sessions couldn’t be part of an investigation that would basically require him to investigate himself, his actions and his motivations.
So, notwithstanding the obvious, here’s the president’s gripe: “If he, Senator Sessions, had told me that he would recuse himself over this business, I would have appointed someone else.”
Basically, the president wanted his attorney general nominee to be what a real estate person would typically call a “nominee” — an agent who will do the bidding of the one who named him. Say what you will about Sessions — and there is much one can say — whatever his loyalty to the president and his agenda entails, it does not, it seems, include his accepting the mantle of nominee.
And, thus, the president’s dilemma.