On the campaign trail, Sessions spoke out against Clinton over her use of a private email server as secretary of state, which became the subject of an FBI criminal investigation. Trump had previously promised that he would instruct his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton.
Today, Sessions noted that the presidential campaign was "contentious" and that he made several comments about Clinton’s potential criminal culpability.
“I do believe that that could place my objectivity in question … [so] I think the proper thing would be to recuse myself,” Sessions said at his hearing.
Sessions told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the role of the attorney general and the Department of Justice is to execute the laws passed by Congress, regardless of political and policy differences.
In July, the FBI announced after a year-long investigation that charges against Clinton were not warranted, adding that agents had not found any evidence that Clinton knowingly sent or received classified information on the server. Just weeks before the presidential election, the FBI announced a review of additional emails discovered in an unrelated criminal probe, but those emails did not change the initial conclusions of the FBI.
President Obama's attorney general, Loretta Lynch, met briefly with former President Bill Clinton amid the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. She said would follow whatever recommendation the FBI and prosecutors made in the case; however, she did not formally recuse herself from the investigation.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley explained that the comments Sessions made about the email server investigation caused some to question how Sessions would approach any lingering investigations involving Clinton.
Sessions responded that after giving the matter some thought, the "proper thing" to do would be to rescue himself.
"This country does not punish its political enemies but this country ensures that no one is above the law," he said.
Sessions was the first sitting senator to endorse Trump back in February, ahead of Super Tuesday and the Alabama primary.