Sessions declines comment on recusing himself on Trump lawyer Cohen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday declined to say during a congressional hearing whether he would recuse himself from an investigation involving Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, but said he continued to honor his recusal agreement for campaign-related issues.

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“I have sought advice on those matters. I have not met with the top ethics person on it, but I can assure you I have not violated my recusal,” he told Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy during a hearing on the U.S. Justice Department budget.

Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, had pressed him about Cohen, whose office and home were raided earlier this month after the FBI received a referral from the special counsel investigating whether members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia during the election.

Sessions, a former Republican senator, had agreed to recuse himself from any Justice Department investigation into campaign interference after he worked to help Trump win the election. That agreement has publicly enraged Trump, a fellow Republican.

“I am honoring the recusal in every case and every matter that comes before the Department of Justice,” Sessions said. “It is the policy of the Department of Justice that those who have recused themselves not state the details of it or confirm the investigation or the scope and nature of the investigation.”

He said recusals are typically not made public, a point echoed by Justice Department Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores.

“The attorney general has been clear that his recusal covers ‘any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States’ based on the relevant DOJ regulations. Department officials decline, however, to discuss recusals from specific ongoing investigations because doing so could confirm the existence of ongoing investigations or the scope or nature of those ongoing investigations,” she said in a statement to Reuters.

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Sessions had not recused himself from the Cohen case.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Sarah N. Lynch; editing by G Crosse)

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