Republicans now calling on Sessions to recuse himself

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.

Washington Post: Top Republicans call on Sessions to recuse himself from Russia investigation

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.”

More government by Twitter.

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.

KGB agent linked to Trump dossier dead

Intriguing news – a KGB agent linked to the dossier compiled on Donald Trump is reported to have died in suspicious circumstances.

The Telegraph: Mystery death of ex-KGB chief linked to MI6 spy’s dossier on Donald Trump

An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.

Erovinkin has been described as a key liaison between Sechin and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mr Steele writes in an intelligence report dated July 19, 2016, he has a source close to Sechin, who had disclosed alleged links between Mr Trump’s supporters and Moscow.

The death of Erovinkin has prompted speculation it is linked to Mr Steele’s explosive dossier, which was made public earlier this month.

The Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus… [and] a large-scale investigation has been commenced in the area. Erovinkin’s body was sent to the FSB morgue”.

No cause of death has been confirmed and the FSB continues to investigate. Media reports suggested his death was a result of foul play.

This is the Russia that Trump thinks he can get along with well.

From an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News on Friday (as reported by Russian news service RT in Trump hopes to get along with Russia, ‘knock the hell out of ISIS together’:

“He called me after I won, but I haven’t had a discussion, but I understand we will be having a discussion soon.”

“I don’t know Putin, but if we can get along with Russia that’s a great thing, it’s good for Russia, it’s good for us, we go out together and knock the hell out of ISIS, because that’s a real sickness.”

“If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”

“I understand that they would like to meet, and that’s absolutely fine with me.”

Trump should meet with Putin, and the US should get along with Russia as well as they can.

And they should also treat Putin and Russia with a lot of caution. As are a couple of Republican senators.

Politico: Republicans warn Trump against lifting Russia sanctions

Two Republican senators on Friday warned President Donald Trump not to unilaterally ease sanctions against Russia — reminding him there’s bipartisan support for blocking such a move.

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain and Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman urged Trump to rule out any rollback of punitive measures against Moscow hours after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said lifting administration sanctions against Moscow is “under consideration.” The latest round of sanctions were imposed in response to U.S. intelligence officials’ conclusion that Russia interfered in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf.

“For the sake of America’s national security and that of our allies, I hope President Trump will put an end to this speculation” about easing sanctions, McCain said in a statement, “and reject such a reckless course. If he does not, I will work with my colleagues to codify sanctions against Russia into law.”

Portman urged fellow senators to “take pro-active steps” by converting administration sanctions into law, saying he is “deeply concerned” by reports that Trump may be preparing to ease U.S. financial restrictions on targeted Russian individuals and groups.

“To lift the sanctions on Russia for any reason other than a change in the behavior that led to those sanctions in the first place would send a dangerous message to a world already questioning the value of American leadership and the credibility of our commitments after eight years of Obama administration policies,” the Ohioan said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also urged Trump to preserve existing sanctions against Russia, the former in an interview with POLITICO and the latter at a POLITICO-sponsored event.

Russia versus America goes back a long way. It is not something Trump will be able to change with a big black signature on an executive order.