House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign following a Washington Post report that he spoke with Russia’s ambassador to the United States twice last year and failed to disclose it at his confirmation hearing in January.
“Jeff Sessions lied under oath during his confirmation hearing before the Senate,” Pelosi said in a statement released late Wednesday. “Under penalty of perjury, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee, ‘I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.’ We now know that statement is false.”
The Washington Post, citing unnamed Justice Department officials, reported Wednesday that Sessions spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak first in July and then in September in the senator’s office while Sessions was serving as a top supporter in the Trump campaign and as a senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Officials at the Justice Department told the Post those talks were held as part of Sessions’ duties as a member of the Senate committee, not as a Trump adviser. The attorney general’s office released a statement to that effect, saying, “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.”
The revelation came about an hour after The New York Times reported intelligence officials working for the Obama administration had dispersed information throughout the government about Russia’s efforts to influence the U.S. election in an effort to help investigators in a future administration.
The Post story looks at Sessions’ responses during his confirmation hearing in January, at which Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Sessions what he would do in his capacity as attorney general if “anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign” was found to have communicated with Russian officials. Sessions said he was “not aware of any of those activities.”
“I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians,” he asserted.
Franken on Wednesday called on Sessions to recuse himself from any investigation into Trump’s ties with the Russian government in a message posted to Facebook. Pelosi took those calls one step further, calling for the attorney general’s immediate resignation.
“Now, after lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign,” Pelosi said, before continuing to call for an “an independent, bipartisan, outside commission to investigate the Trump political, personal and financial connections to the Russians.”