GOP lawmaker: Sessions 'betrayed' Trump

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHouse Democrats leave empty chair for McGahn at hearing MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump Chris Wallace: AG Barr 'clearly is protecting' Trump MORE "betrayed" President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push 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 RosensteinDemocrats talk subpoena for Mueller Klobuchar: 'Don't think' there are reasons to investigate Mueller probe's origins Democrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook 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. McGahnElection agency limps into 2020 cycle The Memo: Mueller's depictions will fuel Trump angst The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems face tricky balancing act after Mueller report 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 MuellerHouse progressive: Pelosi 'has it right' on impeachment Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna: 'I'm not there yet' on impeachment 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.