Utah Rep. Chris Stewart calls on A.G. Jeff Sessions to resign over ‘weakened’ Russian investigation

Utah’s only member of House Intelligence Committee joins growing chorus.

(Scott Sommerdorf | Tribune file photo) U.S. Congressman Chris Stewart, R-Utah, speaks at the Utah Republican Party Organizing Convention, May 19, 2017.

Utah Rep. Chris Stewart called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign Friday, saying it would be “for the good of this investigation” by the Justice Department into potential ties between Trump associates and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.

“This is hard for me. It really is because I think Jeff Sessions is one of the most honorable men in Washington, D.C., and I mean that sincerely,” Stewart said in an interview on CNN. “But we have been weakened in our investigation into very important concerns at the Department of Justice and at the FBI because Jeff Sessions hasn’t been able to take the reins and to direct that investigation.”

Sessions, who was an early supporter of now-President Donald Trump’s campaign, recused himself from the department’s probe in May after news emerged of his previously undisclosed contact with the Russian ambassador to the United States — despite testifying under oath that he had not met with any officials from the country.

At the time, Stewart said “we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about his ability to be fair and impartial.” Trump, meanwhile, told The New York Times that he wouldn’t have appointed Sessions if he knew the attorney general would step aside during the investigation.

Now, Stewart believes there needs to be a director who can “be assertive” in leading the probe, which has since been directed by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director and federal prosecutor.

“[Sessions] can’t do that once he’s recused,” the Utah Republican added. “I think it may be time for him to step aside.”

Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, joins Republican Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, as well as former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, in calling for Sessions’ resignation.

Were Sessions to leave his post, the newly appointed attorney general would be bound by the same restrictions and could, potentially, fire Mueller.