• Attorney General Jeff Sessions: I Won’t Be a ‘Liar’ to America
By Ed Lavandera and Dana Bash CNN Political Correspondents in Washington and in Mexico City
The first eight months of Donald Trump’s presidency have been at times underwhelming for the business mogul-turned-politician.
And Tuesday night the travel ban battle got more complicated: President Trump will be in Texas Monday evening for a private fundraiser for Attorney General Jeff Sessions — the man whose recusal last month paved the way for the Ninth Circuit’s opinion declaring Trump’s second travel ban unconstitutional.
Before joining the Trump administration, Sessions was a critical member of Trump’s campaign, answering questions frequently and enthusiastically in the months leading up to his election. But while Sessions has publicly professed his admiration for the President, he has kept his silence about the mounting pressure on the White House over the Russia investigation.
One potential and foreboding possibility is that he might implicate Trump in a crime, criminal defense attorney Marci Hamilton told CNN’s Poppy Harlow.
“Jeff Sessions is going to be the focal point of the investigation that has been designed from the outset to identify who is behind the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails,” Hamilton said. “The notion that a prosecutor would be so unwilling to investigate a problem that clearly their client has engaged in would raise a lot of eyebrows if he continued to serve in the administration.”
“You cannot be a fox in the henhouse,” Hamilton added.
CNN’s Steve Brusk reports Jeff Sessions would consider firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the wake of the travel ban ruling.
Since being appointed in February, Sessions has steered the Justice Department away from litigation and toward a stronger focus on non-criminal enforcement.
The move away from litigation has made sense, according to former Attorney General Eric Holder.
“This should have been done at the very beginning of the Trump presidency,” Holder said. “I think what’s changed now is that there is a commonality now between people on both sides, people in the Department of Justice, not just within this administration but others, who want to shift away from trying to prosecute Americans who have committed civil offenses and to concentrating more resources on crimes.”
As Sessions deals with a Justice Department that’s staying on its toes to battle the President, the Mueller investigation for crimes related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election is gathering steam.
Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Sunday that the justice department’s current investigators should “be beyond furious” at the developments in Washington.
In an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Sunday, White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci warned the president should “bury this whole thing” after prosecutors probe obstruction of justice in connection with the firing of James Comey.
Trump allies who spoke with CNN following Tuesday’s ruling conceded that the travel ban is not as complete as it could be, but that it remains a crucial move on behalf of national security.
“I think the President’s position is correct — that not only is there national security as he stated, but there are some issues here that are criminal in nature,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican. “I don’t think the underlying rationale for the travel ban has been undermined but he has additional concerns about the action that was taken by the Ninth Circuit.”