Let’s break down the Russian government interference updates of just this week:
- The Washington Post broke the story that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke on two occasions to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
- Sessions claims he spoke to Kislyak in his role as a Senator, not a Trump campaign surrogate. This is his explanation as to why he responded “no” when asked by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Al Franken (D-MN) at different points of the confirmation process about whether he had any interactions with representatives of the Russian government.
- However, on one of those occasions, Sessions spoke to Kislyak at the Republican National Convention. Writes the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Sessions paid for convention travel expenses out of his own political funds and he spoke about Donald Trump’s campaign at the event, according to a person at the event and campaign-finance records.”
- Sessions specifically shared that he spoke with Kisylak in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. However, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) responded via Twitter, “I’ve been on the Armed Services Com for 10 years.No call or meeting w/Russian ambassador. Ever. Ambassadors call members of Foreign Rel Com.” Sessions has no recollection as to the specifics of the meetings, just that they didn’t talk at all about the campaign. Mm-hmm.
- Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn did not just have those calls with the Kislyak, he also met with the Ambassador in December at Trump Tower, along with Jared Kushner.
- Sessions has agreed to recuse himself from any investigations into Russian meddling into the 2016 elections. According to The Hill, “Sessions’s recusal comes just a few days ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for deputy attorney general pick Rod Rosenstein – who may ultimately make decisions about a DOJ probe into Russia.”
- Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’s statement on the matter: “Attorney General Sessions has never had the credibility to oversee the FBI investigation of senior Trump officials’ ties to the Russians. That is why Democrats have consistently called for Sessions to recuse himself from any oversight of the investigation. Now, after lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign.”
- Trump gave Sessions a resounding endorsement: “As to whether Sessions spoke truthfully in his Senate confirmation hearing, when he denied under oath having meetings with Russians, Trump said, ‘I think he probably did.'”
Meanwhile, the House Oversight Committee, led by the Representative Jason “BUT HER EMAILS!!!!!” Chaffetz (R-UT) still refuses to investigate anything related to Russia or the 2016 elections. And two weeks ago went after Hillary Clinton’s former staffer about the stupid f’ing emails. COME ON.
The Senate side isn’t any better. While there appears to be a closed door investigation taking place in the Intelligence Committee, the Senate has the ability to appoint a special prosecutor or create a select congressional committee to review the matter. However, the Republicans say they’re satisfied with Sessions’ decision to recuse himself.
So now what?
It’s overwhelming, right? And it feels like there’s a firehose of information about the Russian government’s involvement in our elections and current Administration that grows stronger everyday. We need to call on Congress to do more, and put country before party. Today’s Action focuses specifically on the Senate. Here’s a script:
“Hi, I’m [NAME] from [TOWN]. I have deep concerns about the growing amount of information being revealed almost daily about the Russian government’s involvement in the 2016 elections. Where does the Senator stand on appointing a special prosecutor or bipartisan select congressional committee to further review and investigate the matter?”
If support: “I appreciate the Senator’s support on this matter. Thank you for your time.”
If REPUBLICAN and unsure/disagree: “I hope the Senator comes to support the escalating need for an independent investigation and chooses country over party. Thank you for your time.”
If you are leaving a voicemail, be sure to leave your full address and request a response.