During his confirmation hearing, then-U.S. Senator from Alabama Jeff Sessions told his colleagues something along the lines of I did not have political relations with that country when Minnesota Democrat Al Franken asked him if he had any knowledge of contact between Russian officials and the presidential campaign of one Donald J. Trump.
It turns out Sessions, now Attorney General of the United States, was apparently lying and had himself met with the Russian ambassador during the campaign (for which he served as a surrogate), a bombshell Washington Post report revealed Wednesday night.
Oddly enough, Franken was asking Sessions about the campaign-in-general's dealings with Russia, not Sessions' own, and as some have pointed out on Reddit and elsewhere, Sessions replied by giving more information (however false it was) than was asked of him, which is some pretty non-lawyerly behavior for someone who is supposed to be the top lawyer in the nation.
Also, lying under oath: bad.
Members of Congress, from Senate and House Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on down, spent Thursday calling on Sessions to resign, though some (including a few Republicans, like Utah U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz) are merely demanding that he recuse himself from the FBI's probe of Russian involvement in the 2016 election (you know who would agree with that sentiment? Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III).
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg), a moderate former Republican who was the Sunshine State's attorney general before he took office as governor in 2007, joined his Democratic colleagues in the call for Sessions' resignation.
"As the former Attorney General of Florida, I find Attorney General Sessions’ actions inexcusable, and call for his immediate resignation. How can we have faith that the duties of the office of the Attorney General will be carried out when the chief legal officer of the country doesn't tell the truth under oath to the United States Congress," Crist said in a written statement issued to media. "It is clear that we need to establish an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate this administration’s Russian connections. The American people demand answers, and we have a responsibility to get to the truth of this Russian imbroglio."
Tampa Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor's office sent out a written statement over what it dubbed "perjury" in the subject line.:
"Lying to a congressional committee while you are under sworn oath is illegal. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign and at the very least must recuse himself from the investigation into illegal collusion between Vladimir Putin, the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. President Trump’s failure to release his tax returns (unlike any other presidential candidate or President) continues to be a cloud over his Administration. An open and transparent review of his tax returns could answer questions related to whether or not he or his company have ties to Russia," it said.
Former Democratic National Committee Chair and South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz also piled on, urging in a statement that Sessions must now resign because he "breached the public trust" and that his communication with Russia, coupled with that of short-time Defense Secretary Michael Flynn — who resigned after similar circumstances came into focus — constitute smoke, and where there's smoke...
"What’s especially unsettling is that Sessions' involvement with Russian officials is part of a larger pattern of involvement between Moscow and Trump’s campaign and administration. Ultimately, we need an open, independent, bipartisan investigation into Russia's ties to the Trump administration and its attempt to influence our elections,” she said.
Aww, and after that nice presidential address to the joint houses of Congress Trump just did. Boo.