Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday explained before the Senate Intelligence Committee his rationale for removing himself from the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
He said he announced his recusal due to a standing Department of Justice regulation, citing Title 28, Chapter I, Section 45.2 of the Code of Federal Regulation, titled “Disqualification arising from personal or political relationship.”
“That regulation states, in effect, that department employees should not participate in investigations of a campaign if they have served as a campaign advisor,” Sessions said.
Sessions called it “absurd” to suggest that his recusal from the F.B.I.’s investigation would render him unable to manage the Department of Justice.
The full text of Section 45.2 reads:
(a) Unless authorized under paragraph (b) of this section, no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with:
(1) Any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution; or
(2) Any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.
(b) An employee assigned to or otherwise participating in a criminal investigation or prosecution who believes that his participation may be prohibited by paragraph (a) of this section shall report the matter and all attendant facts and circumstances to his supervisor at the level of section chief or the equivalent or higher. If the supervisor determines that a personal or political relationship exists between the employee and a person or organization described in paragraph (a) of this section, he shall relieve the employee from participation unless he determines further, in writing, after full consideration of all the facts and circumstances, that:
(1) The relationship will not have the effect of rendering the employee’s service less than fully impartial and professional; and
(2) The employee’s participation would not create an appearance of a conflict of interest likely to affect the public perception of the integrity of the investigation or prosecution.
(c) For the purposes of this section:
(1) Political relationship means a close identification with an elected official, a candidate (whether or not successful) for elective, public office, a political party, or a campaign organization, arising from service as a principal adviser thereto or a principal official thereof; and
(2) Personal relationship means a close and substantial connection of the type normally viewed as likely to induce partiality. An employee is presumed to have a personal relationship with his father, mother, brother, sister, child and spouse. Whether relationships (including friendships) of an employee to other persons or organizations are ”personal” must be judged on an individual basis with due regard given to the subjective opinion of the employee.
(d) This section pertains to agency management and is not intended to create rights enforceable by private individuals or organizations.