What does recusal mean? Here's what's next for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced to reporters that he would recuse himself from any investigations into President Donald Trump and the Trump campaign's possible communications with Russia.

The announcement came after a bipartisan furor erupted over reports that Sessions had met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his time as a surrogate for President Donald Trump, and not reported the meeting during his confirmation hearings for attorney general.

What exactly does "recuse" mean? Here's what you need to know.

Susan Walsh/AP

What is a recusal?

To "recuse" means "to disqualify (oneself) as a judge in a particular case" — or, more generally, "to remove (oneself) from participation to avoid a conflict of interest."

What does a recusal mean for Sessions?

While Trump stood by Sessions on Thursday, Democrats and even some prominent Republicans — including House Government and Oversight Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — were all calling for the same thing: recusal.

When Sessions says he will "recuse" himself from investigation into the Trump campaign's possible talks with Russia, he simply means that he will decline to take part in them.

Sessions denies any wrongdoing in his dealings with Russian officials, saying that he attended those meetings in his capacity as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

Nonetheless, on Thursday, Sessions announced that he would recuse himself from "existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States."