Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R) said he would not participate in an investigation of Hillary Clinton's email practices should he be confirmed as the next Attorney General of the United States.
During his first confirmation hearing Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Sessions what he would do as head of the Justice Department, given his charged rhetoric during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Sessions said, “it was a highly contentious campaign,” adding that his own personal comments would conflict with the DOJ's demand for objectivity in such matters:
“I, like a lot of people, made comments the issues in that campaign with regard to Secretary Clinton and some of the comments I made. I do believe that that could place my objectivity in question. I’ve given that thought. I believe the proper thing for me to do would be to recuse myself from any questions involving those kinds of investigations that involve Secretary Clinton that were raised during the campaign — or could otherwise be connected to it.”
Grassley followed up, noting that current Attorney General Loretta Lynch did not formally recuse herself from the investigation, but instead deferred any recommendations of charges to FBI Director James Comey.
“When you say you’ll recuse, you mean that you’ll actually recuse and the decision will therefore fall to, I assume, a deputy attorney general,” Grassley said. “I ask because after Attorney General Lynch met with President Clinton in Phoenix, she said she would quote unquote ‘defer’ to the FBI, but she never officially recused.”
Sessions quipped that he would not have acted as Lynch did and “there’s a procedure for that, which I would follow.”
“And I believe that would be the correct — best approach for the country, because we can never have a political dispute turn into a criminal dispute that’s not in any way that would suggest that anything other than absolute objectivity,” Sessions added. “This country does not punish its political enemies, but this country ensures that no one is above the law.”