Democrats seek Jeff Sessions’ resignation over Russia meetings
Washington, March 2 (IANS) Senior Democrats have called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign after it emerged that he failed to disclose two meetings with Russia’s Ambassador to Washington during the US election campaign.
Sessions did not mention the meetings with Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation hearings, when asked if he knew of any contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, CNN reported in Thursday.
Sessions campaigned on behalf of Donald Trump throughout 2016.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Session should resign.
Pelosi said Sessions’ answers in his confirmation hearing amounted to “apparent perjury” and said he was “not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country”.
Warren said he should never have been confirmed in the first place, pointing out that he oversees the FBI, which is investigating allegations that Russia interfered in the US election campaign.
“Now Jeff Sessions is AG — the final say on the law enforcement investigation into ties between the Trump campaign & Russia? What a farce. This is not normal. This is not fake news. This is a very real & serious threat to the national security of the United States,” she tweeted.
The US Justice Department said Sessions spoke twice last year with Kislyak, the encounters Sessions did not disclose.
One of the meetings was a private conversation between the two that took place in September in the senator’s office, the Washington Post reported, citing department officials as saying on Wednesday.
When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, the senator was a senior member of the influential Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers.
At his January 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Senator Al Franken what he would do if he learnt of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.
“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded, adding: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
Also in January, Senator Patrick J. Leahy asked Sessions for answers to written questions, the Washington Post said.
Sessions responded with one word: “No”.
However, the Attorney General on Wednesday night, in response to the Justice Department claims, said 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”.
“There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer,” said Sarah Isgur Flores, Sessions’s spokeswoman.
A White House official said: “This is the latest attack against the Trump Administration by partisan Democrats. (Attorney) General Sessions met with the ambassador in an official capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is entirely consistent with his testimony.”