Monday 19 February 2018

Trump's Hillary tweets don't influence me, insists Sessions

US attorney general considers Clinton probe amid pressure

Jeff Sessions Photo: Getty
Jeff Sessions Photo: Getty

Ben Riley-Smith

Jeff Sessions denied US President Donald Trump's tweets were influencing his decisions as it emerged yesterday he may launch an investigation into Hillary Clinton corruption allegations.

Mr Sessions, the US attorney general, said Mr Trump is "bold and direct" in expressing his views, but promised his decisions would be based on facts alone.

Protesters burn an image of US President Donald Trump fashioned on a swastika as they march in the streets of Manila during the start of the Asean meetings between heads of state in the Philippine capital Photo: Jes Aznar/Getty
Protesters burn an image of US President Donald Trump fashioned on a swastika as they march in the streets of Manila during the start of the Asean meetings between heads of state in the Philippine capital Photo: Jes Aznar/Getty

He played down the row by denying he had been "improperly influenced" by the US president and admitting such behaviour would be "wrong".

It followed the revelation that Mr Sessions is considering appointing a special counsel to look at topics linked to Mrs Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate who lost to Mr Trump. They include allegations of corruption against her charitable foundation and the Russian sale of a company with access to US uranium when she was secretary of state.

Mr Sessions, a stalwart in Mr Trump's campaign, has become the target of the president's anger for his failure to stop the investigation into links between the campaign and Russia, as well as the Justice Department's failure to investigate Mrs Clinton and the Democrats.

The probe would counterbalance another by Robert Mueller, who is ruthlessly pursuing an investigation into Trump campaign links with Russia.

Earlier this month Mr Trump said: "I am really not involved with the Justice Department. I'd like to let it run itself. But honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats."

Appearing before a congressional committee yesterday, Mr Sessions denied the decision had anything to do with Mr Trump's tweets or comments.

It has since emerged that Mr Sessions was present at a meeting when a campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, talked about reaching out to the Russians. Mr Sessions said he "pushed back" on the suggestion.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Donald Trump's eldest son exchanged private messages with WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign at the same time the website was publishing hacked emails from Democratic officials.

Donald Trump Jr did not respond to many notes, sent using Twitter's direct message feature. But he alerted top advisers on his father's campaign, including brother-in-law Jared Kushner, according to two people familiar with the exchanges.

In the messages, WikiLeaks urged Mr Trump Jr to promote its trove of hacked Democratic emails and suggested Mr Trump challenge the election results if he did not win, among other ideas.

In July 2016, the organisation released thousands of emails that had been stolen from the Democratic National Committee by a cyberhack US intelligence officials concluded was orchestrated by Russia.

The exchanges provide additional information about the role played by Mr Trump Jr in 2016. He has come under scrutiny for agreeing to meet with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower who he was told wanted to provide "dirt" about Mrs Clinton on behalf of Moscow.

At one point during his communication with WikiLeaks, Mr Trump Jr sought information on a rumoured leak of new documents related to Mrs Clinton.

"What's behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?" Mr Trump Jr asked the WikiLeaks account on October 3.

More than a week later, the account replied: "Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us."

The message included a link to search documents that had been hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Mr Trump Jr did not answer. Fifteen minutes later, his father tweeted: "Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks So dishonest! Rigged system!"

Irish Independent

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