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senate confirmations

Jeff Sessions says he would recuse himself from Clinton investigations as attorney general over concerns about objectivity

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that if he is confirmed as the attorney general, he would recuse himself from anything involving Hillary Clinton's emails or the Clinton Foundation.

"That's a bit of a shocker," The New York Times wrote, "and [Sen. Chuck] Grassley seems stunned." "You'll actually recuse?" Grassley further clarified after Sessions' statement, and Sessions confirmed.

The decision breaks with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who said Monday he would continue to pursue the investigation into Clinton's private email server. "Just because there was a political election doesn't mean it goes away, so of course I am going to continue to pursue that," Chaffetz said. President-elect Donald Trump also encouraged his campaign crowds to chant about "locking up" Clinton, although he backtracked after being elected, saying the former secretary of state had "been through enough."

"We cannot have a political dispute turn into a criminal dispute," Sessions told the Senate committee. "This country does not punish its political enemies." If Sessions were to recuse himself, Grassley noted that decisions regarding Clinton's emails and foundation would be made by a deputy, who has not yet formally been named; Attorney General Loretta Lynch, after being criticized for meeting with former President Bill Clinton during the FBI's ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, said she would defer to the bureau's recommendation, but never officially recused herself from the case.

Watch Sessions' statement below. Jeva Lange