Attorney General Jeff Sessions will not recuse himself from criminal investigation of Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen: Report

Key Points
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will not to recuse himself from the ongoing criminal investigation of President Donald Trump's long-time lawyer, Michael Cohen.
  • Sessions recused himself from the Mueller probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  • FBI agents seized files from Cohen that included details of a nondisclosure deal he made with porn star Stormy Daniels about an affair she allegedly had with Trump.
AG Jeff Sessions will not recuse himself from the Michael Cohen probe: Report

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided not recuse himself from the ongoing criminal investigation of President Donald Trump's long-time personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to Bloomberg News.

But Sessions will consider not handling specific questions related to that investigation of Cohen, the report said.

Sessions' decision contrasts with his recusal from any probes related to Trump's presidential campaign, including the one led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

It also contrasts with the recusal from the Cohen investigation by Geoffrey Berman, the interim U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. The Cohen probe is being handled in that office by Berman's deputy, Robert Khuzami.

Because Trump had personally interviewed Berman for the job, concerns were raised about Berman's independence. But it is not known if that played a role in his decision to recuse himself in Cohen's case.

By not recusing himself, Sessions can be briefed about the status of the Cohen probe and participate in decisions on how to handle the case.

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Asked by CNBC about Bloomberg's report, a Justice Department spokeswoman said: "We don't confirm or deny recusals — as the AG said in his testimony in November."

"To do so could be used as a way to confirm the existence or scope of an ongoing criminal investigation, which we have a policy of not doing as you can read in the United States Attorney Manual," the spokeswoman said.

FBI agents raided the New York City residence and office of Cohen, 51, as well as a hotel room where he has been staying while his home is under renovation. Agents seized electronic and paper files, as well as electronic devices from the lawyer.

Prosecutors have said they are investigating Cohen for possible crimes related to his business dealings. Cohen has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

The items seized include files related to a $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election that resulted in Trump becoming president. Daniels has said the money was in exchange for her promise to not publicly discuss an affair she claims she had with Trump. The White House has denied that Trump had sex with Daniels.

The probe of Cohen stems from a referral to prosecutors in the Southern District by Mueller. Prosecutors from the Southern District are now in possession of an unknown number of files related to Trump.

A judge has yet to rule on whether a special team of prosecutors will be the first to scan those files to determine which ones are exempt from being turned over to the case prosecutors because of attorney-client privilege.

Trump was enraged by the raid on Cohen's office, which he called "a disgraceful situation" and "a total witch hunt."

The president also has strongly criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation now being handled by Mueller. The probe is eyeing whether Trump campaign officials cooperated with Russians suspected of interfering in the presidential election.

Trump on Tuesday said it was a "stupid question" when a reporter asked him if he was planning to pardon Cohen.