GOP lawmaker: Sessions 'betrayed' Trump

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsA better way to run the Federal Bureau of Prisons Trump admin erases key environmental enforcement tool DOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda MORE "betrayed" President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE by recusing himself from the Justice Department investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz Former GOP Rep. Rohrabacher joins board of cannabis company 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 Rosenstein10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Why the presumption of innocence doesn't apply to Trump McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing 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. McGahnAmerica has no time to wait for impeachment Election agency limps into 2020 cycle The Memo: Mueller's depictions will fuel Trump angst 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 (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony 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.