Following accusations that Donald Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, may have lied about potential ties with Russian diplomats, many Congressional Democrats called for Sessions to resign his position as Attorney General.
Even some Republicans began a call for Sessions to to recuse himself from any investigations into the Trump campaign.
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Well, during a press conference today, Sessions said that after consulting with Justice Department ethics officials he has made the decision to recuse himself from all investigations into the Trump campaign saying, “I feel I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in.”
Sessions did further clarify that his statements and actions should not be taken as an indicator that there actually are any current investigations taking place at this time.
It is unclear who would be chosen to head up a potential investigation into the Trump presidential campaign.
ORIGINAL COVERAGE: According to the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with the top Russian diplomat in Washington, but chose not to disclose it. This is the very same diplomat, Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, whose interactions with President Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn led to Flynn being fired.
On January 10 at the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D-Mn.) asked Sessions what he would do if anyone linked to the campaign had communicated with Russia. “I’m not aware of any of those activities,” was his reply, adding “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
Later in the month, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) also quizzed Sessions about his communications with Russia. “Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Sessions gave an answer that is impossible to misinterpret, a very simple written “No.”
These latest claims will only add a lot of fuel to the fire in the debate about Washington’s relations with Russia, however, Sessions maintains his innocence, releasing the following statement on Wednesday; “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
It turns out he failed to mention two private conversations with Ambassador Kislyak, one in July at the Republican Convention and another in Sessions’ very own office in September. Both discussions took place when Sessions was still a senator and at what investigators claim was the height of Russia’s attempt to swing the election.
Although many top democrats are calling for Sessions to resign and also be investigated for lying under oath, his spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, believes he did nothing wrong. “There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer. He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee.”
UPDATE: Here is the full video of Jeff Sessions’ 3/2/17 4:00pm press conference. Sessions takes the stage around the 10:00 mark.