So last night the Washington Post reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied to Congress under oath.
Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.
One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race. …
… At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) 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.”
Officials said Sessions did not consider the conversations relevant to the lawmakers’ questions and did not remember in detail what he discussed with Kislyak.
“There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer,” said Sarah Isgur Flores, Sessions’s spokeswoman.
No, not “misleading” at all. It was a flat-out lie.
There are widespread calls for Sessions to recuse himself from any investigations involving the Trump Administration and Russia. But since he’s the head of the Justice Department and FBI, I’m not sure how that could work or be inforced. No, for once, I’m siding with Chuck Schumer — Sessions should bleeping resign.
Chris Cillizza wrote that it’s now political suicide for the Republicans to stonewall a deeper investigation into the Russian connection, but I predict they will continue to stonewall. Certainly the Trumpettes will continue to deny anybody did anything wrong, because that’s all they know how to do.
This morning the Trumpettes are arguing that Sessions met with the Russians in his capacity as senator, not as a surrogate for the Trump campaign. However,
Sessions was clearly identified as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign ahead of the first of his meetings with the ambassador, and his ties to Trump world are deep and far-reaching. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump; served as chairman of his national security advisory committee; is seen as an intellectual godfather of key Trump administration policies, like the travel ban against citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries; was a frequent presence at Trump Tower during the post-election transition to the White House; and loaned key members of his senior staff to the Trump campaign, several of whom ended up with plum roles in the administration.
The news is breaking that two prominent Republicans — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz — are now calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from ongoing FBI investigations into Russian meddling in the election. This comes after The Post reported that Sessions twice spoke with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, after having claimed under oath that he had not had contact with Russian officials.
The latest moves by two senior Republicans amount to a sign that, little by little, the protective wall the GOP has built around President Trump is beginning to erode, though there is still a long, long way to go before we can expect any serious oversight.
My biggest takeaway is that this scandal has all the attributes of the vast and shattering scandals in which people who at least appear to have only indirect or limited roles themselves keep getting pulled under or compromised by it. I know “vast and shattering” is a pretty portentous phrase. Certainly, this revelation itself doesn’t shake anything to its foundations. But why did Sessions have this meeting at all? It seems at best ill-conceived, coming in the heat of allegations of inappropriate connections between Trump and Russia last Fall.
Far more baffling, why did he choose to conceal it?
See also Charles Pierce.