In the ongoing affair of the Trump campaign’s Russia connection, Democrats in Washington are keeping their fire on the Attorney General, a day after he recused himself from any investigation into that matter.
Jeff Sessions’ recusal “is totally unacceptable”, the Democratic minority leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said on Friday. “They are splitting hair here.”
Sessions has come under pressure by Democrats to resign after America’s top prosecutor admitted to having had two meetings with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential election campaign, while denying such contacts in his Senate confirmation hearing.
“The recusal tells us that there is something wrong”, Pelosi said at an event sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and Politico Magazine in Washington.
“If these meetings were so innocuous, why did he deny he had them”, Pelosi said.
Democrats are calling for a special prosecutor to independently investigate alleged Russian interference in last year’s elections as well as possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
This is a push that Republican lawmakers have resisted – so far.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump defended Sessions, one of his earliest supporters inside the Republican Party establishment, calling the controversy a “witch hunt” and Sessions “an honest man”.
Before Sessions became Attorney General less than a month ago, he served as a senator from Alabama for two decades. He was one of the most conservative members of that legislative body.
On the campaign trail, he was an outspoken surrogate for Trump. “Because of that, he has talked extensively on all the topics for which he now faces criticism — lying under oath, the importance of meetings, handling sensitive investigations and even correcting the congressional record”, wrote the Washington Post.
He was particularly critical of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, and spoke extensively about the investigation of her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
In 1999, Sessions voted to impeach then-president Bill Clinton, saying Clinton made false statements under oath in the Lewinsky affair.
Sessions said that Clinton’s artfully crafted statements were perjury and grounds for removal from office.
“I have no doubt that perjury qualifies under the Constitution as a high crime,” Sessions said in September 1998, according to an Associated Press article from the time quoted by Time Magazine. “It goes to the heart of the judicial system.”
Meanwhile, the fallout from the revelations about the pre-election contacts between people from Trump’s orbit and Russia remain a headache for the new administration.
According to the New York Times, Jared Kushner, a son-in-law and close advisor of the president, had joined Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, in a December meeting at Trump Tower with the Russian ambassador.
This meeting had not been previously disclosed, even though Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador over President Barack Obama’s sanctions led to Flynn’s resignation, while his meeting with Jeff Sessions has resulted in the attorney general’s current predicament.