Trump accuses Sessions of hurting Republican congressional races

NBN Breaking News

NBN Breaking News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday launched a fresh attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions accusing him of jeopardizing the chances of re-election for two Republican congressmen by bringing criminal charges against them soon before the midterm elections.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions listens as President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Trump wrote on Twitter the Justice Department’s decision to file charges will hurt safe Republican seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Election analysts believe there is a 50 percent chance the Democratic Party will take control of the House in the Nov. 6 elections. Republicans currently hold a 236-193 advantage.

“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” the Republican president wrote. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff….”

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment on Trump’s tweets, which did not name the congressmen.

On Aug. 8, Congressman Christopher Collins, a Republican who was candidate Trump’s first supporter in the House, was charged with participating in an insider trading scheme involving an Australian biotechnology company on whose board he served. Collins has denied wrongdoing but will not seek re-election.

Despite Trump’s claim that both investigations began under Democratic President Barack Obama, Collins was charged over trades in June 2017 – nearly six months after Trump took office.

On Aug. 23, Republican Representative Duncan Hunter was indicted on charges that he and his wife used hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for vacations, video games and other personal expenses and filed false campaign finance reports, federal officials said. Hunter, the second congressman to back Trump for the White House, has denied wrongdoing, and a recent poll put him in the lead for the election. The Hunter investigation began under Obama.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat, questioned Trump’s comments and whether they were legal.

“He’s not hiding how he views the law, law enforcement, of justice. In his world they swore an oath to him, not he constitution and laws,” Schatz wrote on Twitter.

The president has repeatedly attacked Sessions for recusing himself from an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign. After the recusal, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to lead the probe, which Trump calls a “witch hunt.”

Last week, Trump told Bloomberg the attorney general was safe in his job until November but declined to say if he would keep Sessions in the role beyond then.

The president has repeatedly denied there was any collusion between his campaign and Moscow. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia tried to help Trump win the 2016 election, but the Kremlin denies meddling.

Reporting by Michelle Price; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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