During the run-up to the 2016 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions – now the U.S. Attorney General – spoke to Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. on two separate occasions, according to a new Washington Post report.
The report notes that one of Sessions’ contacts with the ambassador came at a time when Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election was in full force.
Sessions, who was confirmed as AG last month, didn’t disclose the contacts during his confirmation hearing when he was asked about any links from Russia to the Trump campaign.
During the hearing, when asked by Sen. Al Franken about any contacts between Russian officials and the Trump team, Sessions said, “I’m not aware of any of those activities.”
Sessions continued, still lying: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
It turns out that was false.
More from the damning report:
One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.
The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.
When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, the senator was a senior member of the influential Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump on the stump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.
It’s clear that Sessions lied during his confirmation hearing in January, but it’s particularly troubling that he is now in charge of leading the Justice Department and the FBI, two entities currently investigating Russian links to Trump’s campaign and the country’s interference in the U.S. electoral process.
Not only does the new attorney general need to recuse himself from all matters related to Russia, but an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections to the country is needed now more than ever.
A man who communicated with Russia at various points during the presidential campaign – and then lied about having done so – has no business leading these investigations and raises more questions about how deep this scandal goes.