Top US Democrats demanded the resignation
of Attorney General Jeff Sessions Thursday
over his failure to disclose that he met
twice with Russia's ambassador to Washington
during last year's election campaign.
The revelation of Sessions' Russian
contacts -- which directly contradicted his
testimony in Senate confirmation hearings --
plunged President Donald Trump's
administration into fresh turmoil, dashing
its hopes for a feel-good reboot after a
The previously undisclosed meetings once
again raised the question of whether Trump's
campaign team colluded with Russian attempts
to influence the outcome of the US
And they fed mounting calls for Sessions to
recuse himself from oversight of Justice
Department and FBI probes into the alleged
Russian meddling and contacts with Trump
/ Jeff Sessions served as a US Senator for
Alabama from 1997-2017
"I have said whenever it's appropriate, I
will recuse myself. There's no doubt about
that," Sessions told NBC News, while denying
"I have not met with any Russians at any
time to discuss any political campaign, and
those remarks are unbelievable to me and are
false. And I don't have anything else to say
The White House confirmed the meetings took
place but insisted Sessions had done nothing
inappropriate and dismissed the revelations,
which first appeared in the Washington Post,
as a partisan attack.
Several leading Republican lawmakers joined
Democrats in calling on Sessions to stand
"AG Sessions should clarify his testimony
and recuse himself," Jason Chaffetz, a
member of the House Government Oversight
WIN MCNAMEE Senate Democratic Leader Charles
Schumer told reporters, "For the good of the
country, Attorney General Sessions should
Democrats went further, demanding that
the attorney general resign and that a
special prosecutor be appointed to probe the
administration's Russia links.
"The Department of Justice should be above
reproach," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck
Schumer. "For the good of the country,
Attorney General Sessions should resign."
If the Justice Department failed to act on
naming a special prosecutor, Congress should
act to put the matter in the hands of a
panel of judges, he said.
Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House
of Representatives, also called for Sessions
to step down.
- Dashed after-glow -
The latest revelation came as the White
House was basking in the after-glow of
Trump's well-received speech to a joint
session of Congress on Tuesday.
Trump's softer tone in the address was seen
as a tactical retreat from the whirlwind of
conflicts and controversies that unsettled
his first 40 days in office.
The calm was shattered late Wednesday.
GETTY/AFP / Aaron P. Bernstein House
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for the
resignation of US Attorney General Jeff
The Washington Post revealed for the
first time that Sessions met Russian
Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in July and
September, just as accusations of Russian
interference in the election were mounting.
That directly contradicted Sessions'
statement during his Senate confirmation
hearing January 10.
When asked about the Trump campaign's
alleged contacts with the Russians, Sessions
said, "I have been called a surrogate at a
time or two in that campaign and I didn't
have -- did not have communications with the
Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it."
A White House official rejected the Post
report as "the latest attack against the
Trump administration by partisan Democrats."
"Sessions met with the ambassador in an
official capacity as a member of the Senate
Armed Services Committee, which is entirely
consistent with his testimony."
In Moscow, the Kremlin said it was unaware
of any specific meetings between Sessions
and the Russian ambassador ahead of the US
election, but that any such encounters would
have been routine.
- Repeated contacts? -
It was the second time Kislyak has emerged
at the center of the Russia controversies.
AFP/File / Brendan SMIALOWSKI Russian
ambassador Sergey Kislyak (C) was in
attendance as US President Donald Trump
addressed a joint session of the US Congress
on February 28, 2017
Trump's national security adviser Michael
Flynn was forced to resign February 13 after
it was reported that he had talked to the
Russian ambassador the same day that
outgoing president Barack Obama was
expelling 35 Russian diplomats in
retaliation for the election meddling.
Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about
the nature of the talks, which eventually
led Trump to sack the retired general.
The New York Times reported two weeks ago,
citing US intelligence sources, that three
Trump campaign staff -- including campaign
chief Paul Manafort -- had communicated with
Russian intelligence officers over the past
The White House also labeled that report
"false" and has accused Democrats, the media
and the intelligence community of a
political effort to undermine the Trump
US intelligence chiefs announced in December
that they had concluded that Russian
President Vladimir Putin was behind a
hacking and misinformation campaign to hurt
Hillary Clinton and boost Trump's chances to
win the November 8 presidential election.
But they have not made their evidence
public, and the Kremlin denies it.