March 2, 2017 (San Diego) Attorney General Jeff Sessions talked to the Russian ambassador while being a surrogate to the campaign. Yes, many US Senators do this, regularly, talk to ambassadors. The same goes for many members of the House. The problem is that he did not say he did such when he was grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee, specifically Senator Al Franken.
He has also recused himself from any future investigations on onto the Russian matter.
Late today he told the press that “I will not be involved in any campaign investigations. I have studied the rules,” and after consulting with his staff, this was the best decision they could make.
However, this does not put the matter to bed. The questions raised are serious. They include perjury. Sessions was under oath at the time, and if he purposely lied, he could be facing prison time. However. he has the trust of President Donald Trump According to New York Times Reporting:
Touring the Gerald R. Ford, the newest American aircraft carrier, Mr. Trump said that he “wasn’t aware” that Mr. Sessions had spoken to the ambassador, but that he believed the attorney general had testified truthfully to the Senate during his confirmation hearing.
“I think he probably did,” Mr. Trump told reporters.
Asked whether Mr. Sessions should recuse himself in the Russia investigations, the president said, “I don’t think so.”
This is not to say that cracks are emerging. Naturally, Democrats are seeing this matter as one where the administration can be attacked. The Russian hack refuses to die, and instead continues to grow as a scandal.
First Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, said last night the following:
“Jeff Sessions lied under oath during his confirmation hearing before the Senate. Under penalty of perjury, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee, ‘I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.’ We now know that statement is false.
“Attorney General Sessions has never had the credibility to oversee the FBI investigation of senior Trump officials’ ties to the Russians. That is why Democrats have consistently called for Sessions to recuse himself from any oversight of the investigation.
“Now, after lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign. Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign. There must be an independent, bipartisan, outside commission to investigate the Trump political, personal and financial connections to the Russians.”
The chorus from the California delegation continues to grow. Junior Senator Kamala Harris added to the fray, in an email sent to supporters also trying to raise funds:
This morning, after learning that Attorney General Jeff Sessions misled Congress during his confirmation hearings about meetings with Russian officials, I called on him to resign his post immediately.
For weeks now, I have been saying that Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from the investigation into Russian connections with the Trump campaign. Based on strong evidence, his official role on the campaign impairs his ability to be impartial on this critical national security matter.
But his offer to recuse himself – “if necessary” – is not even close to enough. Sessions has done irreparable damage to his integrity and it makes him ineligible to serve as our top law enforcement official. We need your voice in this fight:
Republicans are less open to a resignation, yet they are now open to investigation. For the moment they hope to staunch the bleeding by asking for the AG to recuse himself. For example, Jason Chafetz wrote the following on Twitter
“AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.”
This has now happened.
This morning Speaker Paul Ryan echoed this sentiment and asked for the AG to recuse himself if necessary. In other words, only if he was subject to the investigation. This was both a pullback and a pushback. The AG has gone father than Speaker Ryan perhaps wanted.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, agreed with Chaffetz however, and said the following:
Washington, D.C. — Following reports that Attorney General Sessions spoke twice with the Russian ambassador last year, U.S. Senator Susan Collins released the following statement:
“Attorney General Sessions should recuse himself to ensure public confidence in the Justice Department’s investigation.
“He should also clarify his statements to the Judiciary Committee with respect to his communications with the Russian Ambassador.”
No Republican so far is asking for the AG to step down. However, the emerging scandal with the alleged Russian meddling in the elections is accelerating, as a scandal and is starting to split Republicans. While Democrats are elevating this to possibly an act of war, this was done specifically by Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire, Senator John McCain Republican from Arizona went there in December of 2016.
So it is not new that this has been called an act of war, just that now Democrats are going where McCain went to in December. Very technically it is also a correct statement. However, none should expect the First Marine Expeditionary Force to be deployed to Moscow. What we will see is a further straining of relations with Moscow.
The scandal continues to grow and has a lit fuse. However, what do you do when the top cop breaks the law, and the 911 operator, refuses to answer the phone? The pressure is growing for that operator, in this case, Congress, to pick up the emergency call. Time will tell if they do. We no longer expect this to go away. However long the administration is able to hold it off is a good question. We expect to continue to see scandals around the melding in our democracy for years to come.