About two weeks ago, Attorney General Michael Flynn resigned over his phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Trump campaign. Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI about discussing sanctions, and Trump has been seriously angry about the world finding out. He’s been lashing out at everyone about “leaks,” and we may see more fireworks soon because — uh oh — the Washington Post reveals that Attorney General Jeff Sessions also had some nice chats with Kislyak during the heat of election season … while the Russian hacking was in full swing.
Obviously, this looks bad, but the New York Times will feel vindicated at how the stories that the Trump campaign tried to have them bury (via the FBI, which refused) are being proven true. That is to say, multiple Trump campaign associates had contact with Russia before the election. Sessions reportedly took at least two calls with Kislyak (in July and September) from his Alabama office while still a senator (and while he acted as a Trump surrogate). The Washington Post reveals the Justice Department’s findings on Sessions and provides a refresher about how he likely lied under oath at his confirmation hearing when quizzed about Russia:
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. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump on the stump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.
At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, what he would do if he learned 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. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
In addition, Sessions denied (in a written questionnaire for Sen. Patrick J. Leahy) ever being in contact with anyone from the Russian government in regards to election matters. Already, a Sessions spokesperson insists that he didn’t lie to Congress because he only spoke with Kislyak about his Armed Services Committee duties. However, a member of the committee told the Washington Post that he can’t think of a reason why Sessions would need to talk to the Russian ambassador for such duties. The paper also quotes Al Franken, who’s calling for Sessions to step down if this story is true:
“I am very troubled that his response to my questioning during his confirmation hearing was, at best, misleading. Franken added: “It is now clearer than ever that the attorney general cannot, in good faith, oversee an investigation at the Department of Justice and the FBI of the Trump-Russia connection, and he must recuse himself immediately.”
Franken makes a solid point. As attorney general, Sessions is currently in charge of overseeing the Russia-Trump investigation, and now, it sure looks like he’s part of what’s being investigated. Congress is also investigating Russian interference in the election, and all of this is going to turn Trump into a rage monster again (probably at Obama, since it’s just been revealed that his administration worked hard to preserve evidence to prove the Russian hacking). Man, Trump worked so hard to sound “presidential” and read from a teleprompter, and you know he’s trying so hard not to blow it right now.
UPDATE #1: CNN’s Jim Acosta tweeted word from the White House, which sides with Session and believes that Democrats, including Al Franken, are only pushing this story because of Trump’s “successful address to the nation.”
(Via Washington Post)