The Justice Department said Wednesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, contradicting sworn testimony by Sessions to Congress. The disclosure renewed calls for a special prosecutor to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russia’s government, and prompted calls from senior Democrats for Sessions to resign. During his confirmation hearing in January to become attorney general, then-Senator Sessions was asked by Minnesota Senator Al Franken whether he knew of contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russia’s government.
Sen. Al Franken: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”
Sen. Jeff Sessions: “Senator Franken, 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 didn’t have—not have communications with the Russians.”
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak: in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention and in September in Sessions’s office on Capitol Hill. And The Wall Street Journal reports that federal investigators are probing Sessions’s contacts with Russian officials. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday accused Sessions of “apparent perjury” and said in a statement, “Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign.” Joining the call was Maryland Congressmember Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the House Oversight Committee. Many top Democrats are calling for a special prosecutor to investigate ties between top Trump officials and Russia’s government. At least one top Republican senator said Wednesday he’s open to the idea. This is Lindsey Graham of South Carolina speaking on CNN.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: “It is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about Trump. So they may be not—there may be nothing there, but if there’s something there that the FBI believes is criminal in nature, then, for sure, you need a special prosecutor.”
The Washington Post asked members of the Senate Armed Services Committee if they’d had contact with Russia’s ambassador in the run-up to November’s election. Nineteen of the 26 committee members who responded said no. In a statement, Attorney General Sessions said, “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.”