US AG Sessions under fire over Russian ambassador contacts

03-03-2017
DH

 

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has come under fire after the Washington Post reported he met twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to Washington, seemingly contradicting statements he made in Senate confirmation hearings in January.

The revelation cast a fresh cloud over President Donald Trump’s administration, which has repeatedly denied any suspected ties between members of his election team and Russia -- which US intelligence says interfered in the 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton.

The White House quickly labeled the report an attack by partisan Democrats, confirming the meetings but arguing Sessions did nothing wrong.

In a statement Sessions, the Trump administration’s top law enforcement official, said yesterday: "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."

But with US intelligence agencies, the Department of Justice, and four Congressional committees examining the Russia scandal, Democrats demanded that Sessions recuse himself from the investigations and for Congress to name an independent special investigator to oversee a broad probe.

"Given AG Sessions’ false statements about contacts with Russian officials, we need a special counsel to investigate Trump associates’ ties to Russia," said Democrat Senator Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The Washington Post reported late yesterday that Sessions -- formerly a senator who advised Trump’s campaign on foreign policy and other issues -- met Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in July and September, just as accusations of Russian interference in the election were mounting.

Sessions, however, told his confirmation hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 10 that he did not know of contacts between Trump campaign members and Russia. "I did not have communications with the Russians," he said under oath.

Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the Senate, called for Sessions to step down. "After lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russian, the attorney general must resign," she said.

Democrat Elijah Cummings of the House of Representative’s Oversight Committee echoed that call in a statement. "When Senator Sessions testified under oath that ’I did not have communications with the Russians,’ his statement was demonstrably false, yet he let it stand for weeks," Cummings said.

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