Top US Democrats have called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign for hiding his contacts with Russia, raising a new challenge for President Donald Trump.
Sessions admitted on Wednesday that he had met with Russian Ambassador to America Sergey Kislyak twice during Trump’s campaign last year. However, he said the meetings were part of his routine meetings as a senator and not a Trump surrogate.
Democrats did not buy Sessions’ explanation, arguing that in his January confirmation hearings at the Senate judiciary committee, the former Alabama senator said he had no contact with Russian officials.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, called for the AG’s resignation for “lying under oath.”
“After lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the attorney general must resign,” she said.
“Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign. There must be an independent, bipartisan, outside commission to investigate the Trump political, personal and financial connections to the Russians,” the fierce Trump critic added.
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, called on the former Alabama senator to step down and save himself from upcoming probes about the Trump administration’s ties to Russia.
“This is not even a close call; it is a must,” he asserted.
Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, also denounced Sessions, calling for his “immediate” resignation for a “demonstrably false” testimony.
He advised Sessions to do what Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, did after his ties with Moscow were revealed.
The retired general had discussed Washington’s anti-Russia sanctions with Kislyak and stepped down after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his contacts.
“It is inconceivable that even after Michael Flynn was fired for concealing his conversations with the Russians that Attorney General Sessions would keep his own conversations secret for several more weeks,” the lawmaker said.
Senator Al Franken, another influential Democrat, accused Sessions of “misleading” the lawmakers and said he cannot continue to work as justice secretary.
Both Sessions and the White House have rejected the allegations, saying the meetings were not a violation of his oath during his testimony.
As attorney general, Sessions is tasked with overseeing a joint investigation by his department and the FBI into the Trump administration’s ties with the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.