The testimony of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his Russian contacts is becoming an escalating problem. Some Republicans are now calling on Sessions to recuse himself from any investigations into Russian interference in the US election.
Top Republicans said Thursday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from federal investigations of whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election amid revelations that he met with the Russian ambassador to the United States as a senator but failed to say so at his recent confirmation hearing.
For the second time in President Trump’s nascent administration, the truthfulness of one of its top officials is coming under intense scrutiny, prompting Democratic leaders to call for Sessions to resign as attorney general. The swift response among some Republicans signaled increasing concern about the potential political fallout.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) tweeted early Thursday that “AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.”
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He later told reporters: “Let’s let him clarify his statement, and I do think he should recuse himself.” Asked whether his committee would investigate the matter, Chaffetz said, “There are things we are looking at.”
Other calls for Sessions to step down came from across the GOP spectrum. Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), held in high regard at the White House, said in a statement that Sessions “is a former colleague and a friend, but I think it would be best for him and for the country to recuse himself from the DOJ Russia probe.”
Rep. Barbara Comstock, who represents a swing district in Northern Virginia and is a former Justice Department official, said that Sessions should recuse himself from Russia inquiries and that he “needs to clarify any misconceptions from his confirmation hearing on the matter.”
The comments from prominent Republicans follow revelations that Sessions met with the Russian ambassador during election season.
According to Justice Department officials, Sessions, a top Trump supporter, met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice in 2016, including a private meeting in September in his office.Under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions said that he had not met with any Russian officials.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer dismissed calls for Sessions’s recusal as politically motivated.
“There’s nothing to recuse himself,” Spicer said in an interview on Fox News Channel. “He was 100 percent straight with the [Judiciary] committee and I think that people who are choosing to play partisan politics with this should be ashamed of themselves.”
But Sessions has compromised himself – perhaps he’s the one who should be ashamed of himself.
If he doesn’t recuse himself he will leave himself open to allegations and implications of personal interests. At the very least sessions will be a distraction from any investigations.