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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has hired attorney Chuck Cooper to represent him amid ongoing inquiries into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s possible role in it, NBC Nightly News reported on Tuesday.
The National Law Journal was the first to report the news.
Cooper was recently under consideration to be solicitor general, and he also reportedly advised Sessions prior to his testimony before the Senate intelligence committee last week.
At the hearing, Sessions testified about his interactions with President Donald Trump and Russian officials before and after the 2016 election.
The attorney general is one of a number of Trump associates who have invited scrutiny as the congressional and FBI investigations delve into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia. So far, investigators have zeroed in on key officials like former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and campaign foreign-policy aide Carter Page.
Sessions made headlines in early March, when he recused himself from any current or future investigations into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia, after it emerged that he had not disclosed two meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his Senate confirmation hearing.
Further questions were raised when, despite having recused himself fromthe Russia probe, he wrote a memo recommending that Trump fire FBI director James Comey in May, while Comey was spearheading the FBI’s investigation. Trump later said that “this Russia thing” had been a factor in his decision and that he was going to fire Comey regardless of Sessions’ and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s recommendations.
Earlier this month, Comey told the Senate intelligence committee during a bombshell testimony that he and senior FBI leadership had expected Sessions to recuse himself from the investigation, adding that there were other facts he was aware of that he could not disclose in an open setting. Comey’s remarks sparked speculation that Sessions’ contact with Russian officials may have gone further than was initially reported.
During his testimony ast week, Sessions heavily pushed back against Comey’s remarks with a fiery opening statement in which he denied any wrongdoing related to Russian interference in the election. He called any contrary allegations an “appalling and detestable lie.”
Sessions is not the first Trump associate to hire a personal attorney amid the ongoing investigations. In addition to Trump himself, Vice President Mike Pence, Flynn, and Cohen have also hired lawyers. Kushner is reportedly considering new legal representation as well.