If the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions investigates the Trump administration’s dealings with Russia and finds nothing of consequence, the American people will never buy it.

Any investigation of Trump headed by Sessions has zero credibility. Sessions is simply too close to the president, having worked early and hard for his election, frequently rationalized his most outrageous behavior, and served as his number-one Senate cheerleader.

EDITORIAL

Sessions apparently can’t be forced by law to step aside, but he has no ethical alternative. He should recuse himself, and Congress should appoint a special prosecutor.

When it comes to Trump, Sessions rolls over and plays dead. When Trump, as a candidate, was found to have bragged in the coarsest language about grabbing women’s genitals, Sessions said, “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault.” When Trump insisted falsely that Pennsylvania elections are rigged, Sessions gave him a wimpy pass, saying, “There’s cheating in every election.”

Sessions cannot be trusted to fairly investigate and prosecute the Trump administration, especially now that there is reason to believe that any number of members of Trump’s inner circle — not just General Michael Flynn — were in regular inappropriate contact with Russian officials during the presidential election and prior to Trump taking his oath of office.

Whatever is going on between Trump and the Russians, the public deserves to know — and nobody should trust Sessions to get to the bottom of it. If Trump or anybody in his administration is compromised, or even vulnerable to blackmail, because of secret financial dealings with Russia or secret personal information, it must all come out.

Sessions insists he has no need to recuse himself, but he’s already acknowledged that past political activity can be grounds for having to do so. During his Senate confirmation hearing, he said he would recuse himself as attorney general from any probe of Hillary Clinton’s inappropriate use of emails as secretary of state because his rhetoric against Clinton during the campaign had been so strong.

The same principle holds true in reverse. Sessions’ political rhetoric in favor of Trump during the campaign was through the roof. Just as he could not be trusted to be fair to Clinton, he cannot be trusted to be appropriately tough on Trump.

Jeff Sessions should step aside.

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