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Sessions to Recuse Himself From Trump Campaign Investigations

by Countable | 3.20.17

Update: Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce that he would recuse himself from any existing or future investigations involving President Donald Trump's campaign because of his status as a surrogate to the campaign. He said that he'd been in consultation with DOJ officials over the three weeks he's led the agency about recusing himself from and had previously planned a final decision on the matter this week.

Additionally, Sessions clarified that his response to Sen. Franken's question at his confirmation hearing was in relation to his role with the Trump campaign, and that he'd send the Judiciary Committee a letter to formally convey that today or tomorrow. When asked about the subject of his meeting with the Russian ambassador in September, Sessions said that they discussed Ukraine, terrorism, and a 1991 trip Sessions took with a church group to Russia before Sessions declined an invitation to lunch. He said that he didn't recall any specific political discussions related to the presidential campaign.


On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated that "whenever it’s appropriate, I will recuse myself" from investigations the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) pursues in relation to alleged ties between associates of President Donald Trump and the Russian government. This comes after it was revealed by The Washington Post that then-Senator Sessions had met with Russia’s ambassador twice, in July and September 2016, which he didn’t disclose during the confirmation process.

During his January 10 confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) about "a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government." Sessions replied that he’d been called a surrogate “a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.” Later in January, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Sessions if he had “been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day” to which Sessions succinctly replied, “No.”

Sessions has said that he "never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign," which could explain why he didn’t disclose the meetings when asked about election-related contact with Russian officials. The first meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak occurred after a Heritage Foundation panel discussion about European relations at the Republican National Convention on July 18 that was attended by several ambassadors. Sessions met Kislyak again on September 8 in a private meeting at his office, which he has said was in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee rather than as a campaign surrogate.

Democrats have escalated their calls for Sessions to recuse himself from investigations into Russia’s electoral meddling to demanding his resignation, including the top Democrats in Congress, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Some have speculated that Sessions may committed perjury because of his responses to confirmation questions. At this point several Republican lawmakers have also said that he should recuse himself from relevant investigations, and none have demanded that he resign.

Meetings between members of Congress and foreign ambassadors are relatively common, as Sessions had more than 25 such conversations in 2016 according to a spokeswoman. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who has called for Sessions to resign, took to Twitter to point out that she’d never met with Russia’s ambassador while on the Armed Services Committee, only for it to be pointed out by National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke that she’d tweeted about two meetings with the Russian ambassador in the past:

Tell your lawmakers what you think of these developments and whether Sessions should recuse himself or resign using the "Take Action" button.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro / Public Domain)


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  • Cathy
    03/02/2017
    ···

    If I understand the law properly, Mr. Sessions committed perjury when he advised Mr. Franken that he had never had any meetings with the Russians during the campaign. Mr. Franken's statement did not specify that the meetings were regarding the Trump campaign, only that the meetings between campaign surrogates and Russian actors occurred during the campaign. In fact it was Mr. Sessions who offered, while under oath, the information that he had been considered a surrogate at various times during the campaign but that he had not met with any Russian actor during the campaign. This is what the lay person calls a lie, which equates to perjury when stated under oath. For those who would point out that at least 1 of these meetings was in his capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee, I would not disagree. I would ask why then Mr. Sessions would choose to omit this at the time of his hearing, as he could have easily offered that as part of his statement. My assumption is that he had reviewed a good deal of his past when preparing for this hearing and that this review would have included his schedule of meetings over the last year, especially given the daily discussion about Russian interference in the campaign and election. I can't see that we can continue with an Attorney General who does not take more care with complying with the law. I hope that at least one of my reps will see this independent of party affiliation and do the right thing. His resignation should be tendered or his removal sought.

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  • Robin
    03/02/2017
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    He lied to the Senate! He was asked twice about Russian meetings both times denied any meeting. Now says he didn't lie because the questions asked of him weren't in reference to the type of meetings he "did" have! That's like Clinton trying to explain "I did not have sexual relations with" and we all know he did. This stupid word game should not be acceptable! The American people need to be able to trust their government and each day there is another attack on that trust. Trump should nominate a new AG

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  • Gordon
    03/03/2017
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    Jeff Sessions should resign. The same week as the Obama Administration stated that sanctions against Russia should not be lifted he met privately with the Russian Ambassador. He failed to mention this in his testimony to the senate. There is no way he did not know he should have disclosed this to Congress. He thought he could get by without mentioning it. If he was willing to hide this then how many of his other answers can we trust.

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  • Julie
    03/02/2017
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    AG Jeff Sessions should resign. He committed perjury 2 times.

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  • Anita
    03/02/2017
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    We the people deserve an Ag that we can trust, and Sessions has already lied. He needs to resign. This administration's cabinet has the most corrupt people in it, starting with the liar in chief. Treason and traitors are in charge of our beloved country. Illegitimate, inept administration.

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  • M
    03/02/2017
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    The only "R" word I was looking for was resign.

    Like (19)
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  • Matthew
    03/02/2017
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    Call for the resignation of Jeff Sessions! At best guilty of perjury at worst..... Do your Job!

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  • Vicki
    03/03/2017
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    I think the whole bunch of them belong in Federal prison!

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  • Jessica
    03/03/2017
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    If bill Clinton can be impeached for lying about a blow job, then Jeff sessions must be prosecuted for perjuring himself in front of congress.

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  • MichelleSabin
    03/03/2017
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    Sessions lied under oath. It's on tape. He should be forced to resign. Please keep up the pressure to bring full daylight to this controversial state of affairs with an independent investigation. It's disgraceful that this is happening when we as a nation have much greater things to focus on such as the climate change crisis, revitalizing our shrinking middle class, and reviving our dysfunctional healthcare system that such corrupt officials continue to swindle the American people. I look to our NY leadership as a beacon of hope to lead the country through this trying time. Thank You for doing your job and keep standing up for the truth on behalf of your constituents and the American people.

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  • Jan
    03/03/2017
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    We absolutely need an independent investigation. We need to get to the bottom of this. What is happening to our country and our democracy? We also need to see our president's tax returns. Action needs to move swiftly.

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  • Hellin
    03/02/2017
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    How about he also resign! Please keep investigating the Russian interference in our election. This is a serious issue which should not be allowed to be swept under the rug under any circumstances. Thank you.

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  • Antoinne
    03/03/2017
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    Keep up the pressure on Sessions to RESIGN!!! The American people have NO confidence in his commitment to Justice for ALL!

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  • Wesley
    03/03/2017
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    The man knowingly lied in front of Congress under oath. What Standard does this set? He should be arrested.

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  • Jack
    03/02/2017
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    He needs to be Gone'Baby, gone.

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  • Kim
    03/03/2017
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    I am so disgusted with Congress and the Trump Administration I could scream. The Attorney General of the U. S. lies under oath and we can't get even get an independent commission to investigate the perjury and Russian ties. Recusing himself is a start but Sessions will only direct his deputy to do whatever Sessions want. Sessions need to resign. If Obama or Hillary had done what Sessions did, you better believe we would have an independent commission. Sessions can recall some things in detail and can't remember political details from the meetings with the Russians.

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  • Ben
    03/03/2017
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    Sessions has to go. He has perjured himself in front of the United States Senate. This alone makes him categorically unfit to serve as Attorney General. Recusing himself from this investigation isn't going to cut it; he needs to resign, or the Congress needs to meet its constitutional obligation as a check on the executive branch and remove him from office. There is no Door Number Three.

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  • Joseph
    03/03/2017
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    This guy lied to a congressional committee. He is part of Trump's Russian conspiracy. He needs to resign and go back home.

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  • Rosemary
    03/02/2017
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    Recusal is NOT enough. Jeff Sessions should resign or be removed from office. It is simply not plausible that he somehow misunderstood Sen. Franken's question during confirmation hearings. With all of the intelligence on Russian interference in the election, any honorable American asked that question - who knew he had met privately with the Russian envoy in ANY capacity - would have put that meeting into the light, open to further questioning. That Sessions chose not to do so, and hides behind his committee responsibilities, is duplicitous at best. Sessions is not a stupid man. He knew the intent of the question. He could have asked for clarification and/or expanded his answer. He chose subterfuge. And folks, there is ALWAYS a nefarious reason for obfuscating. It could be as simple as Sessions not wanting to make his confirmation more contentious than it (rightfully) already was. Or....the reason could be much, much worse.

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  • Carol
    03/03/2017
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    Help me understand how leaders of this country can commit perjury and remain in place. I was in banking for over 40 years and any lack of trust would get you fired immediately. Integrity is a core vale required for any leader, especially those running this country. We continue to see lies coming from this administration almost daily. Those of you put in place to be a check and balance, who represent the people of this country, allow this to continue. Should these positions not be filled with those with high integrity? We need to have investigations that are thorough and there must be serious consequences for liars. Can we have confidence that you will demonstrate integrity to do what's right in your elected role. I want to have hope that we can trust someone to remove the liars. Ties to Russia and the antics of this administration should be of grave concern. I can't imagine living with potential consequences that could result from of lack of action. Please demand trust in our leadership!

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