Dems Call for AG Jeff Sessions' Resignation Over Meetings With Russian Ambassador
Wednesday night, The Washington Post reported — and the Justice Department later confirmed — that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, while serving as senator in 2016. This seemed to contradict Sessions' statements during his confirmation hearings that he had not had communications with the Russians. Democrats wasted little time in calling for his head.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Sessions of "lying under oath" and declared that the attorney general is now "not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign."
Representative Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, also called for Sessions to resign immediately, citing the firing of former national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Cummings argued that Sessions' testimony was "demonstrably false — yet he let it stand for weeks."
"Attorney General Sessions should resign immediately, and there is no longer any question that we need a truly independent commission to investigate this issue," Cummings declared.
Even some Republicans expressed concern over the issue. Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz declared, "AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself."
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy argued that Sessions "needs to clarify what these meetings were." On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Thursday morning, McCarthy said it wasn't unusual for members of Congress to meet with ambassadors, but he added that if a question arose about the integrity of a federal investigation, "I think it'd be easier" for the attorney general to step away from this particular probe.
So why the outrage? During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions testified, "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in [Trump's] campaign and I didn't have — did not have communications with the Russians."
After news of the meetings with Kislyak, Sessions clarified his position in a statement, saying, "I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false."
According to the Associated Press (AP), "Sessions had more than 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors last year in his role as a U.S. senator and senior member of the Armed Services Committee, and had two separate interactions with Kislyak." What were those interactions?
One was a visit in September in his capacity as a senator, similar to meetings with envoys from Britain, China, Germany and other nations, the department said.
The other occurred in a group setting following a Heritage Foundation speech that Sessions gave during the summer, when several ambassadors — including the Russian ambassador — approaches Sessions after the talk as he was leaving the stage.