Amid questions over his contact with a Russian ambassador, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday he would recuse himself from an investigation into Russia's potential involvement in the 2016 presidential election. Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente will take over "any election-related investigations," reported Eric Geller of Politico.
President Donald Trump appointed Boente, former United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as the acting deputy attorney general in late January after the president fired Sally Yates for her decision to not defend his executive order temporarily banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
Boente, 62, has worked for the Justice Department for more than three decades under both Republican and Democratic presidents. He was nominated by former President Barack Obama for his role in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Sessions came under fire after the Washington Post reported he met twice with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. During testimony given during his confirmation hearing, Sessions did not disclose the meetings when asked about the Trump campaign's connections with Russia.
"My answer was honest and correct as I understood it at the time," Sessions said in a news conference Thursday. He also said that he had been considering removing himself from the investigation already and that the notion that his misled Senators in the hearing was "absolutely false."
The Trump campaign's potential connections with Russia have been the subject of regular controversy amid the intelligence community's assessment that the Kremlin hacked the Democratic National Committee in an effort to assist the GOP candidate. Now a Justice Department investigation into the matter will fall to Boente.
Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch called Boente one of the department's "consummate utility players," according to the Washington Post.
"He is that reliable middle child, the one you could always count on to be there for you," she said