US AG recuses self from Russia probe, Trump slams 'witch hunt'
Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional, said Trump
Beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any probe into Donald Trump's election campaign amid the snowballing controversy over his alleged contacts with Russia which the US President described as a "witch hunt".
"I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the US," Sessions said in a statement amid calls for his resignation from top Democrats after it emerged that he had met Russia's ambassador here during the presidential polls campaign.
His remarks came after President Trump said that he had "total" confidence in Sessions and he should not recuse himself from the Russia probe. However, Sessions went ahead with his decision despite the US President's backing.
"This announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation," Sessions said.
"Consistent with the succession order for the Department of Justice, Acting Deputy Attorney General and US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dane Boente shall act as and perform the functions of the Attorney General with respect to any matters from which I have recused myself to the extent they exist," he said.
Sessions said that during the course of the confirmation proceedings of his nomination to be the US Attorney General, he advised the Senate Judiciary Committee that "if a specific matter arose where I believed my impartiality might reasonably be questioned, I would consult with (the) Department Ethics officials regarding the most appropriate way to proceed."
"During the course of the last several weeks, I have met with the relevant senior Career Department officials to discuss whether I should recuse myself from any matters arising from the campaigns for President of the US," Sessions said.
Trump, in a series of tweets, lashed out at the Democrats and defended Sessions.
"Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional. This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win," Trump said.
"The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election, and now they have lost their grip on reality. The real story is all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information. It is a total 'witch hunt!'" Trump said.
Democrats are accusing Sessions of perjury and demanding his immediate resignation.
They have also called for an independent probe into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.