Sen. Claire McCaskill on Thursday called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign in the wake of media reports that he met with a Russian ambassador twice during the presidential campaign and failed to disclose that to Congress during his confirmation hearings.
McCaskill, a Democrat up for what’s expected to be a difficult re-election in Republican-leaning Missouri in 2018, insisted in an early morning statement, released less than half a day after the Washington Post published a story on the allegations, that Sessions quit the Trump administration.
Sessions’ office has responded to the reports saying that he met with the Russian ambassador in his role as a member, at the time, of the Senate Armed Services Committee — not as player in then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign.
So far, only a handful of Democrats have seen the reports as cause for Sessions to step down, although a handful of centrist Republicans are now calling for the attorney general to recuse himself from investigations into whether the Trump presidential campaign coordinated with efforts by the Russians to tilt the election away from Hillary Clinton. The U.S. intelligence community has said publicly that the Russians wanted to hurt the Democrat.
McCaskill said the latest news reports suggesting he was not forthright during the confirmation hearings in January should doom Sessions’ time as head of the U.S. Justice Department.
“A good prosecutor would have known these facts were relevant to the questions asked,” she said in the news release. “Sessions misled the Senate. The question is, why? I’ve been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for 10 years, and in that time, have had no call from, or meeting with, the Russian ambassador. Ever. That’s because ambassadors call members of Foreign Relations Committee. Attorney General Sessions should resign.”
Sessions was asked by Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota what he would do if he learned that people in the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government during the race.
“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions responded. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
On Wednesday night, as the Washington Post broke its story, Sessions office issued a brief statement pushing back on the central contention of the article:
“I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
After McCaskill’s challenge to Sessions, it didn’t take long Thursday for two of her tweets to surface regarding meetings with the Russian ambassador.
On Jan. 30, 2013, McCaskill tweeted: “Off to meeting w/Russian Ambassador. Upset about the arbitrary/cruel decision to end all US adoptions, even those in process.”
And on June 6, 2015: “Today calls with British, Russian, and German Ambassadors re: Iran deal. #doingmyhomework”
McCaskill responded Thursday morning:
“Again, As senior member of Armed Serv, never received call or request from Russian Amb for meeting. Never met one on one w/him.”
“4 years ago went to meeting of many Senators about international adoptions. Russian Amb also attended.”