Everything you need to know about the controversy surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions

The Trump administration’s ties with Russia have been further called into question after new allegations against the Attorney General have come to light. Here’s everything you need to know.

What are the allegations?

(Alex Brandon/AP)

The Washington Post has published a report saying that according to Justice Department officials, Jeff Sessions spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the US, saying they were “encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general”.

What is particularly crucial is that one of the meetings Sessions reportedly had with Sergey Kislyak took place last September: during the race to the White House, “at the height of what US intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the US presidential race”.

Whilst these reports of meetings between Sessions and Kislyak have not been confirmed, what we do know is that Sessions did indeed deny any contact with the Russians – which you can see here.

Sessions’s spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told the Washington Post: “There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer.” According to the Post, officials said “Sessions did not consider the conversations relevant to the lawmakers’ questions and did not remember in detail what he discussed with Kislyak”.

Why is Sessions’s relationship with the Russians under particular scrutiny?

As Attorney General, Sessions heads up – with the FBI – investigation of senior Trump officials’ ties to the Russians.

As such, it is particularly suspect if Sessions has closer ties to Russia than he had previously let on, and many think he is unfit to lead the investigation.

What has Sessions said about the allegations?

(Alex Brandon/AP)

Sessions maintains that he did not meet with Kislyak, and issued a statement on Wednesday night saying he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign”.

He added: “I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”

And what about everyone else?

For many Democrats, Sessions’s involvement in the FBI investigation of senior Trump officials’ ties to the Russians has been called into question and they are calling for him to recuse himself.

Not only this, but many are demanding his resignation.

In a statement, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said: “Now, after lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign. 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.”

It’s not just Democrats: even though he didn’t accept the report as truth, Republican Lindsey Graham told CNN that if Sessions had indeed acted improperly, Graham himself would also call for his prosecution.

What happens next?

The report from the Post does feel a bit like deja vu: just last month it reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had discussed US sanctions with Kislyak before Trump took office (despite what he told VP Mike Pence), and the controversy around this led to his resignation.

As Sessions continues to deny meeting with Kislyak, he is refusing to recuse himself or resign his post. It remains to be seen whether many Democrats will get their way and secure an independent investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.


 

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