After another one of Donald Trump’s top appointees reportedly lied to the U.S. Senate under oath about his contact with Russia, Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings has joined other lawmakers in asking him to step down as the country’s top prosecutor.
The Washington Post reported last night that Justice Department officials say Sessions, chosen by President Trump to be his Attorney General, did not disclose that he spoke with Russia’s U.S. ambassador twice last year when he was grilled by the Senate during his confirmation hearings in January. Officials told the Post that Sessions met with the ambassador in September, right when Russian hackers were meddling with our elections. He also spoke with the ambassador in July.
This would be questionable, though not a federal crime, if Sessions hadn’t testified on Jan. 10, in part, “I did not have communications with the Russians.” Granted, he may not have been confirmed if he had admitted he was in touch with Russian officials while he was supporting Donald Trump’s campaign.
Trump’s former top security adviser, Ret. Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, resigned from his post last month after he was found to have spoken at a paid gig in Moscow in late 2015, a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emolument’s Clause. Rep. Elijah Cummings was already all over that investigation; he formally asked the company that arranged for Flynn’s speaking engagement for any documents that will lead to the source of the money.
This week, Democrats are piling on to a call for Sessions, formerly an Alabama senator, to resign. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued this statement yesterday:
It is inconceivable that even after Michael Flynn was fired for concealing his conversations with the Russians that Attorney General Sessions would keep his own conversations secret for several more weeks. 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 — and he continued to let it stand even as he watched the President tell the entire nation he didn’t know anything about anyone advising his campaign talking to the Russians.
Cummings concluded by saying Sessions “should resign immediately.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen also issued a statement saying the attorney general “must have the confidence of the American people to be an honest and independent broker who protects the fundamentals of our democracy.” The new Maryland senator said that Sessions lying under oath makes it clear he is “no longer able to meet that standard and must resign.”
Sessions’ spokeswoman has told outlets, “there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer” during his confirmation hearings. Sessions’ team is arguing he didn’t consider those details about meeting with the ambassador to be relevant to his Senate colleagues’ questions, and that the meetings happened when he was a member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee.
Republicans are trying to get Sessions to save face by recusing himself from any investigations into his potential perjury, since his department is already investigating Russia’s election-season cyberhacking — a significant conflict of interest.
Cummings, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Mass., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are among top Democrats pushing for Sessions to quit his new job.
We are far past recusal. Jeff #Sessions lied under oath. Anything less than resignation or removal from office is unacceptable.
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) March 2, 2017
Cummings said on CNN last night that based on what he’s learned, “It sounds like [Sessions] did not tell the truth. Now, he can say that he misunderstood or he [forgot] or all those other terms. At some point, people, we have to go back to something we call integrity…A lie is a lie is a lie, period.”
This story has been updated.
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