The White House is standing by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the face of mounting Democratic calls for his resignation – after reports showed he spoke with the Russian ambassador, despite testimony that he did not have “communications” with Moscow.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday morning became the latest top Democrat to seek Sessions’ dismissal, while also calling for a special prosecutor and an inspector general probe, Fox News reports.
“There cannot be even the scintilla of doubt about the impartiality and fairness of the attorney general,” he said. “It’s clear Attorney General Sessions does not meet that test … for the good of the country, Attorney General Sessions should resign.”
Republicans have split, meanwhile, on the question of whether Sessions should recuse himself from a Russia investigation. The top-ranking congressional Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan, said Thursday he doesn’t see a purpose in recusal unless Sessions is the subject of the investigation.
He told reporters he’s seen “no evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and “Democrats are lighting their hair on fire to get you to cover this story.”
A White House official, in a statement, described Democrats’ demands as a “partisan” attack, suggesting the controversy is timed to distract from the positive response to President Trump’s address to Congress earlier this week.
“This is the latest attack against the Trump administration by partisan Democrats. [Attorney General] 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,” the official said.
In a statement to Fox News, the former Alabama Republican senator said, “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.”
While Sessions is denying he specifically discussed campaign issues with the Russians, The Washington Post first reported that he did speak twice last year with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. One discussion, in July, was described as involving a group of ambassadors after a Heritage Foundation event on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention. Kislyak was part of a “small group” of diplomats who approached Sessions and spoke with him.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, speaking with “Fox & Friends’” Abby Huntsman, also said Sessions “did his job” as a senator. He said Sessions was “100 percent straight with the committee” and Democrats are playing politics.
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