Jessica Schulberg & Ryan J. Reilly Report on HuffPost:
“WASHINGTON ― Less than a week on the job as U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions faces a potentially explosive situation: He was a top adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but he’s now overseeing the agency investigating members of that campaign.
The FBI, which falls under the umbrella of Sessions’ Justice Department, is leading a multi-agency probe of possible connections between Trump associates and the Russian government. Law enforcement and intelligence officials have phone records and intercepted calls that show members of Trump’s campaign repeatedly communicated with senior Russian intelligence officials in the months before the election, the New York Times reported Tuesday. Sessions has ties to at least two of the people who are reportedly under investigation.
The FBI is also separately examining intercepted communications between the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who served with Sessions as a member of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory council. The FBI interviewed Flynn days into the Trump presidency, according to The New York Times, and reportedly had concerns about whether he was entirely forthcoming. Lying to the FBI is a felony. If the FBI investigation into Flynn’s conduct turns up wrongdoing, Sessions could be responsible for signing off on the prosecution.
Flynn, who resigned as national security adviser on Monday, denies intentionally mischaracterizing his conversations with the Russian ambassador. The incident, he said in his resignation letter, was due to the “fast pace of events.”
Investigators are also reportedly looking into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whom Sessions has known since the 1970s and communicated with frequently during the campaign. Manafort said in an email that he has never been contacted by the FBI and that he has never had any connection to Putin or the Russian government. He gave a similar statement to The New York Times but added, “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.’”
Former foreign policy adviser Carter Page and Republican operative Roger Stone are also under scrutiny, The New York Times reported.
The FBI applied for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year to monitor several members of the Trump team as part of its investigation, The Guardian reported in January. If the FBI wanted to request another FISA warrant to monitor those individuals, it would likely have to get approval from Sessions.”