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California's Kevin McCarthy, a top House Republican, says Sessions should step aside from Russia investigation

 (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions should step aside from any role in the investigation of potential contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said Thursday.

McCarthy's remarks made him the highest-ranking member of his party to say that Sessions should step aside from the investigation.

The FBI and other U.S. law enforcement agencies have been looking into whether people associated with the Trump campaign may have had contacts with Russian officials during the election year. Sessions, as attorney general, oversees the FBI.

The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday evening that Sessions had at least two meetings during the summer and fall with the Russian ambassador. That appeared to contradict a statement Sessions made in his confirmation hearing to be attorney general.

In the hearing, Sessions had said he had not had any meetings with Russians. Sessions said in a statement late Wednesday that he "never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign."

McCarthy, in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," said that "I think [for] the trust of the American people you recuse yourself in these situations."

After adding that he did not want to "prejudge" the situation, McCarthy said that "for any investigation going forward, you want to make sure everybody trusts the investigation."

Obtaining that trust "would be easier" if Sessions recused himself, McCarthy added. Recusal is the legal term for an official stepping aside from any role in a specific matter.

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