CT lawmakers grow louder in criticisms of Sessions

mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, left, and Chris Murphy discuss Sessions at a press conference Friday.

Washington – Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to recuse himself in any Justice Department investigation of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, but that’s not good enough for Rep. Jim Himes, who on Friday joined other Connecticut lawmakers in calling for Session’s resignation.

“Revelations in the past 24 hours have made it clear that Jeff Sessions does not have the credibility, clarity of thought or independence necessary to preside over the Department of Justice at a time when the department will be called upon to investigate the many facets of Russian interference in our presidential election,” Himes said.

“His initial misrepresentations to the United States Senate regarding his contact with Russians during the presidential campaign, coupled with his failure to correct the written record at any subsequent point, followed by his muddled responses in the past day disqualify him from the critical role of Attorney General,” Himes said.

Democratic calls for Sessions’ resignation were touched off by disclosures Sessions had met with the Russian ambassador in Washington on two occasions after telling members of the Senate Judiciary Committee he had no communications with Russians.

Sen. Chris Murphy and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, also have called for Sesssions’ resignation.

“I don’t think there can be any fair investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia while Jeff Sessions is attorney general,” Murphy said. “This is a scandal that could bring down a presidency, so it has to be done right.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Murphy also are joining other Democrats who want Sessions to return to the Senate Judiciary Committee to address his failure to reveal his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Sessions was a member of the Trump campaign’s National Security Advisory Council at the time of the meetings.

“We’ll write to the chairman, Sen. Grassley, asking him to bring back Attorney General Sessions to answer questions about his false statement to the committee, his false denial of meeting with the Russians,” Blumenthal said. “He clearly, falsely stated that there were no such meetings. He misled me. As I sat on the committee, I concluded there were no meetings. He misled me and every member of that committee, and he should be brought back to provide an explanation. If that explanation is not credible, he must resign.”

The Connecticut senators, who spokes to reporters in Hartford Friday, said there was nothing wrong with the fact that a U.S. senator met with a foreign ambassador. Sessions’ spokeswoman said the former senator met with Kislyak in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Servcices Committee.

In fact, Murphy said, he has met with the Russian ambassador and other foreign officials as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But the timing and context of Sessions’s meeting is noteworthy — as is his failure to disclose it.

“I have not met with the Russian ambassador. I know of no other member of the Armed Services Committee who has met with the Russian ambassador,” Blumenthal said.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, had called for Sessions to recuse himself. On Friday Courtney posted that his deputies must recuse themselves, too.

“One thing is clear… it was Mr. Sessions’ role as chairman of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory committee, like Michael Flynn’s similar role on the campaign, which piqued the Russian ambassador’s interest in meeting with him last September,” Courtney wrote. “This was not a routine meeting for a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sessions’ decision to recuse himself now begs the question: who will be appointed as Special Counsel to handle the Justice Department’s inquiry into Russian influence in the 2016 election? Conducting this investigation is not a task for DOJ staff who work for the Attorney General.”

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, also stepped up her criticism.

“Attorney General Sessions’ recusal yesterday is a necessary first step in this process. But for the public to have any confidence in the integrity of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s entanglements with Russia – and more broadly the efforts of the Russian government to influence and undermine our elections – the investigation must be conducted independently of the Department of Justice,” she said

To Esty “it’s not just the truthfulness and trustworthiness of Attorney General Sessions that are at issue here.”

“An independent investigation is the only course that will allow us to understand the full scope of Russia’s efforts to undermine our recent election – and to prevent similar attacks on our democracy in the future,” she said.

President Donald Trump, who has refrained from twitter attacks since he gave his speech to the joint session of Congress Tuesday evening, broke his streak Friday, tweeting a photo of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Schumer had called for Sessions’ resignation.

“We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!,” Trump tweeted.

Schumer responded with his own tweet.

“Happily talk re: my contact w Mr. Putin & his associates, took place in ’03 in full view of press & public under oath. Would you &your team?” the New York Democrat said.

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