Top Democrats in the US Congress called Thursday on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign over his failure to disclose that he met twice with Russia’s ambassador to Washington during last year’s election campaign.
“The Department of Justice should be above reproach,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “For the good of the country, Attorney General Sessions should resign.”
He was seconded by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who accused Sessions of lying under oath to Congress.
Sessions told a Senate committee during his confirmation hearing January 10 that he had had no communication with the Russians.
“The fact that the attorney general, the top cop in our country, lied under oath to the American people is grounds for him to resign,” Pelosi said. “He has proved that he is unqualified and unfit to serve in that position of trust.”
The White House confirmed a Washington Post report that Sessions met twice last year with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, but insisted there was nothing inappropriate about the contacts.
But Schumer said the undisclosed contacts had raised enough doubts that Sessions should resign and the Justice Department should immediately name a special prosecutor to probe the alleged Russia contacts.
He also called for an investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general into whether the investigation had in any way been compromised.
If the Justice Department failed to act, Schumer urged Republican leaders to join with Democrats and rewrite the laws to empower a three-judge panel to appoint a special prosecutor.
“There is enough doubt about whether senator Sessions told the truth at his hearing to have an investigation of it,” he said.
“And the standard for remaining attorney general and certainly for conducting investigations is not just did you break the law. You have to be above reproach,” he said.
© Agence France-Presse