Senator Marco Rubio of Florida told NPR on Thursday morning that while he is suspicious of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ ties to Russia, he advises caution in moving forward. He told NPR’s Steve Inskeep, “I’m not interested in being part of a witch hunt, but I also will not be part of a cover-up.”
The Republican senator from Florida and former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Rubio said on NPR that he has been tough on Russia, and while he wishes to learn more information about Sessions’ discussions with Russia during Donald Trump’s campaign, he wants to be fair. “Depending on what more we learn about these meetings, it could very well be that the attorney general, in the interest of fairness and in his best interest, should potentially ask someone else to step in and play that role.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee is currently conducting an investigation into the potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Rubio claimed on NPR that Vladimir Putin poses a potential threat to the American people.
Jeff Sessions has already recused himself from any investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 election, even as Republicans stand by him. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had previously said there was no need for Sessions to withdraw from the nomination unless he became the primary target of investigation.
However, unlike top Republicans like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, Democratic lawmakers have demanded that he resign from his position as attorney general altogether. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have both demanded that Sessions resign. On Wednesday, Pelosi stated, “After lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign.”
Some Republicans had stepped away from the party line of Rubio and Ryan and called for Sessions’ recusal prior to the attorney general officially removing himself from any investigations into Russia.
Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah wrote on Twitter that “AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.” Chaffetz is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy also called for Sessions’ recusal, but later changed his stance during an appearance on Fox and Friends.
In a press conference, Sessions maintained that he answered Senator Al Franken’s question with regards to his communication with Russian officials during the presidential campaign truthfully. He claimed as well that he had followed the correct procedure as attorney general. President Donald Trump has stood by Sessions as recently as Thursday morning and did not see the need for Sessions to step down. According to the New York Times, when asked if he felt Sessions had spoken honestly in his Senate confirmation hearing, Trump replied, “I think he probably did.”
Sessions says he came to the decision to recuse himself after speaking with officials in the Justice Department. He denied however that he discussed any campaign matters with Russian officials.
Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times criticized what he called Rubio’s “wet-noodle answer” with regards to Sessions’ role in a Russia investigation.
“We need to know what Sessions and the Russians spoke about. We need an independent investigation to find that out. And here in South Florida, we need a senator willing to push back against his own party for once in his life.”
Following the suspension of his presidential campaign,Marco Rubio endorsed Donald Trump in the race. The Florida senator has not made a public statement since Jeff Sessions’ official recusal from the Russia probe.
[Featured Image by Alex Brandon/AP Images]