Sessions Pushes Back Against Republican Calls For Clinton, Comey Special Counsel
Jeff Sessions testimony before the House Judiciary Committee was about as contentious as many observers probably expected, with Sessions jousting with lawmakers who pressed him about troubling omissions in his previous testimony.
But nestled among questions about Sessions’ campaign-season interactions with Russian officials and former Trump campaign national security adviser George Papadopoulos, one lawmaker asked Sessions whether a report that the DOJ said it would approve AT&T’s proposed takeover of Time Warner only if the latter agreed to sell CNN was accurate. Sessions responded that it wasn't.
“I don’t think I’m able to accept as accurate news reports that have come out,” he said when asked if the president or anyone at the White House had asked him about the acquisition.
The news outraged some Democrats, who accused Trump of improperly using his influence to punish the network, which he has frequently decried as “fake news”. Trump had insinuated during the campaign that he might try to block the deal if he won the presidency.
Sessions refused to say exactly what would be required for the AT&T-Time Warner deal to win approval.
When asked later by another lawmaker if the White House had attempted to interfere, or had reached out to the DOJ about the deal. Sessions said that he couldn't answer questions involving the White House's communications with the Justice Department.
Last night, the Washington Post reported that Sessions had asked prosecutors to look into whether certain prominent Democrats and Obama-era federal law-enforcement officials should be investigated for a range of purported misdeeds.
During the testimony, several Republican reps pushed Sessions to confirm that he would appoint the special counsel, something Sessions declined to do since he said to do so would reveal the existence of an ongoing investigation.
Instead, in a heated exchange with Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Gordon, Sessions pushed back on the immediate need for a second special counsel to investigate Clinton.
It would take "a factual basis that meets the standard of a special counsel" for the Justice Department to make such an appointment, Sessions said.
"We will use the proper standards and that’s the only thing I can tell you, Mr. Jordan," Sessions said. "You can have your idea but sometimes we have to study what the facts are and to evaluate whether it meets the standards it requires."
It would take "a factual basis that meets the standard of a special counsel" for the Justice Department to make such an appointment, Sessions told Gordon.