Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign from his office, continuing a wave pressure for the former senator to either step down or recuse himself from any investigation into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia after multiple outlets reported he spoke twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.
Schumer, a New York Democrat, joined other prominent Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland who called for Sessions’ resignation.
A number of prominent Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah called for Sessions to recuse himself from any Russia-related investigation, which the attorney general himself suggested Thursday he would if necessary.
“The information reported last night makes it clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that Attorney General Sessions can not possibly lead an investigation into Russian interference in our elections or come anywhere near it,” Schumer said at a Thursday press conference. “With these revelations, he may very well become the subject of it.”
“It would be of ‘Alice & Wonderland’ quality if this administration were to sanction him to investigate himself,” he continued. “Recusal should have been given, but this goes beyond that. He had weeks — Attorney General Sessions had weeks to correct the record that he made before the Judiciary Committee. But he let the record stand.”
He said there can be no doubt about the impartiality of the attorney general, and that the recent revelations made it clear Sessions now “does not meet that test.”
“Because the Department of Justice should be beyond reproach for the good of the country, Attorney General Sessions should resign,” he said. “But, what everyone’s views are on resignation, the most important thing we must do is ensure the integrity of the investigation.”
The Washington Post, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and others reported Wednesday night that Sessions chatted with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at an event during the Republican National Convention and later by phone in September. His spokesperson said both instances were in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and not as a surrogate for Trump.
But Sessions said during his Senate confirmation hearing, under oath, that he “did not have communications with Russia.”
Sessions’ allies insist he did not mislead the committee because he did not believe that those conversations, held in his capacity, they said, as a senior Armed Services Committee member, were relevant to the question. Opponents say Sessions may have perjured himself by not mentioning those two conversations with Kislyak.
Kislyak also happened to be the individual whom Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, was ousted for speaking with prior to Trump’s taking office, although Trump has said the conversations with Kislyak were not the reason for his dismissal, but his misleading of Vice President Mike Pence regarding the content of those conversations.
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