On March 1, the news broke that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had spoken to Russia’s ambassador to the United States during Trump’s campaign, for which he was an official surrogate, despite his assurance to Congress during his confirmation hearing that he “did not have communications with the Russians.” Sessions is currently overseeing investigations into Russian connections with Trump’s campaign. During the 2016 campaign, media figures were quick to call for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s recusal from the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server after Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac.
Sessions Overseeing Investigation Into Trump Campaign Ties To Russia After Having Communicated With Russians While Serving As A Trump Surrogate
Wash. Post: Sessions Met With Russia’s Ambassador To The U.S. In 2016, Contrary To His Congressional Statements. According to The Washington Post, Attorney General Jeff Sessions “spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States,” despite telling Congress during his confirmation hearing that he “did not have communications with the Russians.” In his role as attorney general, Sessions “oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates.” From the March 1 article:
Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.
One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.
The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.
At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.
“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.” [The Washington Post, 3/1/17]
10 Media Figures Called On Lynch To Recuse Herself For Meeting With Bill Clinton
Then-Fox Host Greta Van Susteren
Van Susteren: Lynch “Needs To Recuse Herself On This Case And Assign It To Sally Yates. … This Investigation Is Poisoned.” Former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren said that there was “no way anyone is going to think anything but that this investigation is poisoned” after Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton.Van Susteren said that it was not “a close question” that Lynch “needs to recuse herself on this case.” From the June 30 edition of Fox News’ The Real Story:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: But Kimberly [Guilfoyle], you're a lawyer, and this isn’t a close question. During a trial, you don’t meet with the judge privately without the other side there. And while your wife is under investigation, and, I should add, running for president, you don’t meet privately with the attorney general. And the attorney general should be smart enough not to meet privately. Then what does she do the next day or the couple hours later? She says it was, quote, “primarily social.” She doesn’t even say it was 100 percent social, but “primarily social,” making it all the worse.
Look, she needs to recuse herself on this case and assign it to Sally Yates, who is her number two, because there’s no way anyone is going to think anything but that this investigation is poisoned. [Fox News, The Real Story, 6/30/16]
Fox Host Kimberly Guilfoyle
Guilfoyle: “This Isn’t Even A Close Call For Me. She Should Recuse Herself.” Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle told Hannity guest host Eric Bolling that Lynch “should recuse herself” because her meeting with Bill Clinton was “highly improper.” Guilfoyle continued, “She knows better. … And there’s already some impropriety in the fact that he has appointed her before.” From a Nexis transcript of the July 1 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
JAY SEKULOW: Eric, let me take it one step further. She needs to go! She certainly should have recused herself. She did not. She should then resign. If she doesn't, the president should fire her.
ERIC BOLLING (GUEST HOST): Should he fire her?
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: Well, yes, right, I'm sure. It seems like he was definitely sending a shot across the bow, face to face Clinton-style to exert influence.
But listen, this isn't even a close call for me. She should recuse herself, and I say this as a former officer of the court. I'm a former prosecutor. And I'll tell you, if we ever had the audacity to try and have an ex parte communication with a judge or a member of a jury, you would be in huge trouble. It is highly improper. It's not a close call. She knows better. He knows better as an attorney.
And there's already some impropriety in the fact that he has appointed her before, and yet she's supposed to impartially investigate not only his wife but his foundation? I mean, come on. He's certainly the subject that they would want to talk to, as well, as this proceeds forward. That's why the FBI is furious. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/1/16, via Nexis]
CNN Commentator Corey Lewandowski
Lewandowski: “This Is Everything That’s Wrong With Washington.” Former Donald Trump presidential campaign manager and CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski said that Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton represented “everything that’s wrong with Washington” and that she “should absolutely recuse herself.” From the July 1 edition of CNN’s New Day:
COREY LEWANDOWSKI: This is everything that’s wrong with Washington. The political elites that give political elites, friends covering the back of friends. This is so shameful, honestly. And you know what? I have great respect for the FBI director, who everyone has said he’s going to do the right thing, whatever that decision is. And I’m glad that she’s going to take that recommendation. But the bottom line is this meeting should have never taken place.
What I suggest is [Lynch] should absolutely recuse herself. Clearly, the discussion of where this investigation was taking place. There's two people or very few who actually knew what took place, but the optics are terrible. It should have never been done. She should have never been on that airplane. This is a disaster. [CNN, New Day, 7/1/16]
Conservative Talk Show Host Jay Sekulow
Sekulow: Lynch “Has To Recuse Herself From Any Potential Review Of The Case” Appearing on Fox’s Hannity, conservative talk show host Jay Sekulow said that Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton was “horrendous from the beginning” and that Lynch “has to recuse herself from any potential review of the case, not just the prosecution or not prosecution.” Sekulow also asserted that Lynch’s “objectivity is certainly put in question.” From the June 30 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Is there any legal/ethical issues here that would force her to have to recuse herself?
JAY SEKULOW: Well, yes. In fact, the Department of Justice's own guidelines in the court of federal regulations, it specifically states, let me read it, it says it prohibits a DOJ employee, that would include the attorney general, from participating in a criminal investigation or prosecution if they have a personal or a political relationship with the person or entity that's the subject of the investigation.
So the fact that they had a personal conversation -- which only Bill Clinton could pull this off, by the way -- I mean just think about that, really proves the point. That means her objectivity is certainly put in question, and I think under the existing Department of Justice own regulations and guidelines, she has to recuse herself from any potential review of the case, not just the prosecution or not prosecution. She needs to be out of it now.
But just think for a moment, Sean. The idea that Bill Clinton got off an airplane, walked up the steps to a plane controlled by the United States Department of Justice while his wife is under investigation by the Department of Justice through the FBI, and he may well be a witness. And let's not forget the server of the e-mails that are in question was in his house. So he's a potential witness. He could be a potential defendant. So this whole thing is just horrendous from the beginning. [Fox News, Hannity, 6/30/16, via Nexis]
Frequent Fox News Legal Guest Ted Williams
Williams: Lynch “Compromised The Integrity Of Any Independent Decision That She Could Make.” Frequent Fox News legal guest Ted Williams said that Lynch “needs to recuse herself” after meeting with Bill Clinton and that the rendezvous “compromised the integrity of any independent decision that she could make” in investigating Hillary Clinton’s email server. From a Nexis transcript of the June 29 edition of On the Record:
TED WILLIAMS: I think that the attorney general has compromised the integrity of any independent decision that she could make in this investigation.
Greta, I don't care how private, how grandmother it was. It's the appearance. Hillary Clinton is under investigation by the FBI. Loretta Lynch is in the position where she is going to have to at some stage make a decision one way or another concerning the prosecution of Hillary Clinton.
And to meet with the president's -- with the potential president or candidate's husband under this circumstance, she needs to recuse herself and I guarantee you the drums are going to beat loud for her to do so. [Fox News, On The Record, 6/29/16, via Nexis]
Frequent Fox Legal Guest Katie Phang
Phang: “You Have To Avoid The Appearance Of Impropriety … As The Attorney General.” Frequent Fox legal guest Katie Phang told then-host Greta Van Susteren that Lynch should not have met with Bill Clinton and speculated that if Lynch “had nothing to hide,” the meeting would have been disclosed “from the very beginning.” From the June 29 edition of Fox News’ On The Record:
KATIE PHANG: You know, you have to avoid the appearance of impropriety as an attorney and especially as the attorney general of the United States.
How much more important would it be for her to avoid this? She is ultimately the decision maker as to whether or not Hillary Clinton is going to be prosecuted for what happens with the Benghazi scandal.
And, you know, Hillary has said she is just like you're a -- but do you really think just right before the Benghazi report comes out, they only talked about grandchildren and golf?
And think about this, guys. They are having this private meeting. They don't disclose it to anybody. If you had nothing to hide, why not let people know from the very beginning that you met and that you talked about nothing at all. [Fox News, On The Record, 6/29/16, via Nexis]
Fox Business Host David Asman
Asman: Lynch’s Meeting Violated “Law 101” And “It’s Absolute” That Lynch Recuse Herself. Fox Business host David Asman told the co-hosts of Fox’s Outnumbered that Lynch violated “Law 101” by meeting with Bill Clinton and that Lynch “has to recuse herself from this investigation” because it “is too bad.” From the June 30 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered:
DAVID ASMAN: Even Democrats say this stinks. A lot of Democrats in Congress are saying that, David Axelrod, other Democrats saying this. It’s Law 101. If you are a prosecutor or somebody investigating another person, you do not meet with that person in private. She has to recuse herself from this investigation. At this point, it’s absolute. She’s just got to do it. This is too bad. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 6/30/16]
Wash. Post’s Carl Bernstein
Bernstein: “It’s Unthinkable” That Lynch “Can Go On Being In Charge Of This Investigation.” Washington Post reporter and CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein told The Lead host Jake Tapper that Lynch should “recuse herself from overseeing this investigation and turn it over to the deputy attorney general,” adding that is “unthinkable that she can go on being in charge of this investigation.” From a Nexis transcript of the June 30 edition of CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper::
JAKE TAPPER (HOST): Carl, this comes at the time where Hillary Clinton herself just acknowledged that she has a trust deficit among many, many voters, especially independents and there are a lot of voters out there who think, A, she's not trustworthy and, B, the Clintons don't think the rules apply to them and boom, this story.
CARL BERNSTEIN: This plays right into Trump's hand, but the terrible thing is the incredible lapse in judgment by both the Attorney General and Bill Clinton. It's inexplicable, it's wrong, it's improper and she needs the Attorney General to now recuse herself from overseeing this investigation and turn it over to the Deputy Attorney General in charge of the criminal division. It's unthinkable that she can go on being in charge of this investigation. [CNN, The Lead with Jake Tapper, 6/30/16, via Nexis]
Republican Political Pundit Michael Reagan
Reagan Told Newsmax Lynch Should Recuse Herself From Clinton Investigation. Political pundit Michael Reagan told Newsmax host J.D. Hayworth that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch should have recused herself from investigations involving presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s email server after she met with former President Bill Clinton privately in a government plane. Regan told Hayworth that he “can’t believe” that Lynch and Clinton had an innocent conversation and that “something else was going down.” From Newsmax:
Attorney General Loretta Lynch should recuse herself from any investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after meeting privately earlier this week with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, political pundit Michael Reagan tells Newsmax TV.
“You don't just walk, accidentally, in to a government plane. You have to be invited into a government plane to be able to speak and talk to somebody else in that government plane. So why was he invited in?” Reagan told “Newsmax Prime” host J.D. Hayworth. “I can't believe the attorney general said, 'Hey, I want to invite ol' Bill Clinton in to talk about grandkids. That's now how it goes down. There's something else was going down.” [Newsmax, 6/29/16]
Trump Surrogate And Political Commentator David Wohl
Wohl: Lynch “Needs To Step Aside.” Trump media surrogate and political commentator David Wohl told Fox News host Sean Hannity that Lynch needed to “step aside so that an independent prosecutor” could take over for her on investigations involving Hillary Clinton. From a Nexis transcript of the June 29 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File:
DAVID WOHL: I mean, Loretta Lynch's boss has endorsed Bill Clinton. She needs to step aside so that an independent prosecutor can come in. When that happens, Hillary Clinton will be questioned. I think she'll take the Fifth Amendment. If she does that, that's a catastrophic event for her campaign.
The whole thing could be done with at that point. So, there is so many x factors here we're not really considering, but Donald Trump right now, Megyn, he's making -- he's scoring huge points because of how the way he deals with terrorism. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 6/29/16, via Nexis]