Trump Lunches With Sessions as Manafort Charges Roil Washington

(CN) – President Donald Trump’s decision to lunch with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, only hours after criminal charges were filed against Trump’s former campaign chairman, astonished at least one legal observer.

Brain Galle, a Georgetown Law School professor who clerked for Judge Robert Katzmann of the Second Circuit and U.S. District Judge Stephen Orlofsky, noted the fact Sessions had to recuse himself from the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election would make such informal gather awkward at best.

“I certainly hope the indictment doesn’t come up,” he said.

The president in the past has criticized Sessions for his handling of the Russia investigation, blaming his decision to recuse himself for Mueller’s appointment.

Now that Paul Manafort has been indicted, a significant turning point in the investigation, it is hard to imagine Trump would not want to talk about the probe that’s dogged his presidency.

Manafort  has been charged with 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States and money laundering related to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

During a press briefing Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not discuss the eyebrow-raising lunch, but did say Trump does not plan to fire Mueller in response to charges brought against Manafort and two others Monday.

“There is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,”  Sanders said.

She also said there have been no conversations at the White House about potential pardons for those charged.

“I think we should let the process play through before we start looking at that,” she said.

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