Trump’s New Attorney General Plagued with Russian Ties

Brian Yoon ‘19

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President Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has recently been accused of lying under oath for claiming he had no interactions with Russia during Trump’s presidential campaign. Evidence recently surfaced that Sessions did actually meet with a Russian Ambassador at some point during the election season. The controversy over Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election has thus moved onto Sessions, one of Trump’s earliest supporters in his White House bid.

Republicans initially considered Sessions, a key loyalist of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, as a viable candidate for the Vice Presidency, before settling on Mike Pence. In November 2016, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Sessions for US Attorney General, and on February 8, 2017, Sessions was confirmed with a close vote of 52-47 in the Senate.

At Session’s confirmation inquiry on January 10, Senator Al Franken questioned, “If there was any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this [2016] campaign, what would you do?” Sessions promptly responded, “I’m 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.”[2] Throughout his confirmation hearings in January, Sessions did not mention his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, a Russian ambassador.

However, in March 2017, the Washington Post revealed that Sessions had, in fact, met with Kislyak twice in 2016. Following this incident, Sessions recused himself from any investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, while some Democratic lawmakers called for his resignation.

Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, aggressively declared, “We are far past recusal. Jeff Sessions lied under oath. Anything less than resignation or removal from office is unacceptable.” [2]

Moreover, Senator Al Franken stated that Sessions’ testimony in January was “misleading at best,” and that if the reports of Sessions’ contacts with Kislyak are true, then Sessions “cannot, in good faith, oversee an investigation at the Department of Justice and the FBI of the Trump-Russia connection, and he must recuse himself immediately.” [3]

Aditya Agrawal ‘18 agrees with the previous statements: “I personally believe that Jeff Sessions should not be allowed to be Attorney General for a few major reasons. The first being that he lied under oath. He obviously cannot be trusted to remain honest to the American people, a trait much needed in today’s government. Our government is highly divided right now and we need to implement change. Removing Jeff Sessions from office or forcing him to resign is a good step in the right direction in my opinion. Government officials are supposed to be intellectual models who can be looked upon for support.”

Michelle Zhu ‘19 concurs as well, stating, “I think the issue is more serious than most people would think. It warrants his impeachment, which is why I think it’s wrong for the president to gloss over the issue. It’s not an issue of left and right. Russia is the largest foreign threat to the US in the status quo, and our own attorney general breaching rules put in place to guarantee American security is absolutely abhorrent.”

Popular sentiment frowns upon “lying under oath” but when the attorney general — the chief legal official — appears to have done this, it can only be responded to with extreme shock and dismay. While many Democratic senators called on Sessions to appear again before the Judiciary Committee to explain his relationship and conversations with Russian officials under oath, it is an explanation that Sessions dutifully owes the American people as a whole.

[1]https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/03/02/what-jeff-sessions-said-about-russia-and-when/?utm_term=.eccb56c43dd2

[2]http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-disclose-russia-contacts-report-170302041900080.html

[3]http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/01/politics/jeff-sessions-russian-ambassador-meetings

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Trump’s New Attorney General Plagued with Russian Ties