GOP lawmaker: Sessions 'betrayed' Trump

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines What you need to know about FBI official Dana Boente's retirement Rosenstein steps back into GOP crosshairs MORE "betrayed" President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE by recusing himself from the Justice Department investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherDemocrat Harley Rouda advances in California House primary Lawyers to seek asylum for Assange in France: report Rohrabacher tells Yahoo he discussed pardon with Assange for proof Russia didn't hack DNC email 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 RosensteinRosenstein steps back into GOP crosshairs DOJ asks Supreme Court to block Democrats' access to Mueller documents This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic 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. McGahnCongress hits rock bottom in losing to the president in subpoena ruling Rudy Giuliani's reputation will never recover from the impeachment hearings In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book 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) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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.