GOP lawmaker: Sessions 'betrayed' Trump

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAfter Mueller, Democrats need to avoid the Javert trap Mueller probe: A timeline from beginning to end Mueller's investigation ends, but divisive political circus will continue MORE "betrayed" President TrumpDonald John TrumpElizabeth Warren after TMZ catches her sprinting to catch train: 'Try and keep up' GOP governor criticizes Trump's 'dangerous rhetoric' about the media Trump Jr.: Obama, Bush 'couldn't have done' what my father's done for the American people MORE by recusing himself from the Justice Department investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherMueller probe: A timeline from beginning to end Progressives come to Omar's defense Expanding Social Security: Popular from sea to shining sea MORE (R-Calif.) said Friday.

In an interview on CNN, Rohrabacher said that, by stepping aside from the investigation, Sessions gave tacit approval to Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinWhy Mueller's hedge on obstruction decision was a mistake The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems eye next stage in Mueller fight Dem rep on collusion: 'Impossible' to 'write it off completely' just going off Barr summary MORE to appoint a special prosecutor that would unfairly target Trump and others.

"The American people now are getting a taste of what people in Washington have known over this last year," he said. "And that is Jeff Sessions betrays the people who have had faith in him and faith in him to do his job and faith in him not to succumb to pressures from the outside, like from CNN and other news bureaus, to try to do their bidding."

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"When he recused himself from this whole Russia thing, he knew he was setting in motion the establishment of a special prosecutor and a special prosecutor, as happens in Washington, we understand, is just giving unlimited power to someone to go after you," Rohrabacher added.

He said Sessions had no reason to recuse himself from the probe. 

"You don't do that unless there is some really tangible reason for that, and Jeff Sessions had no real reason to recuse himself," Rohrabacher said.

Asked if Sessions should resign from the Justice Department, Rohrabacher said he could not make that call, but added that Trump has a "legitimate right to say he was betrayed."

The California Republican's comments came after The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump had the White House counsel, Donald McGahnDonald (Don) F. McGahnEx-White House ethics chief compares Ivanka, Kushner security clearances to college admissions scandal Dem compares college cheating scandal to Ivanka, Jared's security clearance Senate Dems request probe of White House security clearances MORE, ask Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation last year.

Sessions recused himself anyway, having been advised to do so by officials in the Justice Department.

The attorney general announced his recusal after it was revealed that he failed to disclose 2016 meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during his confirmation hearings. Those meetings occurred when Sessions was still a senator, but also acting as a foreign policy adviser to then-candidate Trump. 

Months after he stepped aside, Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE to conduct the criminal investigation into Russian meddling, as well as possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. 

According to the Times's report, Trump was furious at Sessions for recusing himself from the probe, which he saw as a failure to protect him in the same manner as past attorneys general protected the president.