New reports claim that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice last year during President Donald Trump’s campaign.
U.S. intelligence officials told The Washington Post that one of these private meetings occurred this past September at the former senator’s office. This meeting, if the allegations are true, would have taken place at the “height” of what the intelligence community believes to be Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election outcome.
The other time Sessions spoke to Kislyak was in June 2016, months after Sessions formally joined Trump’s campaign in February 2016.
At Sessions’ confirmation hearing earlier this year, when Democratic Sen. Al Franken asked Sessions what he would do if he learned someone in Trump’s campaign was speaking to the Russians. Sessions said the following:
“I’m not aware of any of those activities…I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
Another senator submitted a written question to Sessions at the time that read: “Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?”
“No,” Sessions replied.
As more details begin to emerge, Democrats and Republicans have called on Sessions to come clean about what actually transpired between him and Kislyak — and remove himself from investigations into Russian interference with the U.S. presidential election.
“Jeff Sessions is a former colleague and a friend, but I think it would be best for him & for the country to recuse himself from the DOJ Russia probe,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, in a statement.
On Thursday morning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on Sessions to resign. “The top cop in our country lied under oath to the a people is grounds for him to resign,” Pelosi told reporters. “He has proved that he is unqualified and unfit to serve in that position of trust.”
Sarah Isgur Flores, Sessions’ spokesperson, told The Washington Post on Wednesday night that “There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer…He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee.”
According to his spokesperson, Sessions did have more than 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors in 2016 — even though speaking to foreign ambassadors is not typically in the job description for members of the Armed Services Committee.
The Washington Post reached out to all 26 members of the 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee and found that, of the 20 who responded, no senator said they met with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, in 2016. This included the Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain.
Sessions so far has resorted to calling the allegation preposterous, saying in a statement issued Wednesday night that he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
But after revelations about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador led Flynn to resign, Sessions may want to take the allegations more seriously.
Next, check out how the Trump administration has embraced the private prison industry, before finding out why George W. Bush rebuked Trump’s travel ban, his russian connections and the attacks on free press.