Marco Rubio Won't Call for Sessions to Recuse Himself: "I Need to Learn More"

The facts aren't in dispute: Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Senate under oath last month that he'd never met any Russian officials during Donald Trump's campaign. He said the same thing in a questionnaire he filled out for Sen. Patrick Leahy.

But Sessions did meet with the Russian ambassador last year — twice. One of those meetings, the Justice Department says, was a sit-down in private in September, at the height of rising concerns about whether Trump's campaign was coordinating with Russian hackers to throw the election.

That's bad. It's so bad that nearly every Democrat in Congress is calling for Sessions to step down, and even GOP loyalists such as Jason Chaffetz are calling for him to recuse himself from the Justice Department's ongoing probe into Russian election interference.

So surely our own Marco Rubio, fierce check and balance on Trump and fiery critic of Russia, will be leading the charge today to get Sessions out. Nope!

On NPR's Morning Edition today, Rubio refused to call for Sessions to recuse himself, instead insisting that he needs more information first. Sure, Sessions might need to step away from the Russia probe, Rubio admitted, but "we're not at that stage yet," he told host Steve Inskeep.

"These are valid issues, but I'd caution everyone, let's take one step at a time," Rubio said. "I want to learn more about it."

This is classic Rubio. When Trump's xenophobic Muslim ban sparked chaos and mass protests, Rubio admitted he was "uneasy" but said his "unanswered questions" had to be addressed before he could possibly take a stand. Sure, climate change seems really bad, but Rubio isn't a scientist, so how could he have any real opinions?

Rubio knew he'd get some tough-on-Russia soundbites from today's interview. Run the tape! "It's a geopolitical danger, no doubt. Russia is a significant threat to our national security," he said.

And by leaving the door cracked open for a special prosecutor, Rubio can come across as open to a bipartisan probe into Trump's Russia ties.
But seriously, listen to this interview and try to find a more wet-noodle answer when confronted with such obvious evidence that Sessions lied to Congress and potentially helped a hostile foreign power muck up a presidential election. Try to parse out this quote, please:

"Even after our investigation is complete, and we're not finished yet, if there are facts that show there should be further action by the Justice Department, that they should be looking at something, it could potentially could call into question whether or not the attorney general can do the job or whether an independent counsel should be necessary," Rubio said. "We're not at that stage yet."

Marco: We are at that stage. The attorney general met, in private, with the top Russian official on American soil at the same time Russian hackers were trying to win an election for Sessions' candidate. And then he lied to Congress about it!

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.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink