But many prominent Democrats argue that’s not enough.
By Kate Wheeling
Jeff Sessions at his confirmation hearing on January 10th, 2017. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
At a Thursday press conference, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would recuse himself from any campaign investigations into any potential Russian influence over the 2016 presidential election.
Sessions’ announcement followed a report by the Washington Post last night that he met with the Russian ambassador twice last year—an allegation that would mean he lied under oath during his confirmation hearing in January about having had contact with Russian officials. When asked at his confirmation whether or not anyone affiliated with the campaign had been in touch with Russian officials, Sessions told the Judiciary Committee he “did not have communications with the Russians.”
Last night’s revelation of potential perjury has prompted many Democrats to call for Sessions to resign, and even Jason Chaffetz, a Republican representative for Utah and the chairman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committeeagreed that he should at least recuse himself from investigations into Russian interference in the election and interactions with Trump campaign officials.
At a Thursday press conference, following meetings with Department of Justice officials, Sessions announced just that. He also denied that he had been intentionally dishonest during his confirmation hearing, and clarified that he thought the senators’ questions about any ties to Russia pertained only to meetings or communications with Russian officials specifically related to Donald Trump’s campaign. “Let me be clear,” he told reporters. “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign, and the idea that I was part of a ‘continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government’ is totally false.”
For many Democrats, Sessions’ recusal is not enough. Party leaders such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez have called on the attorney general to resign his post. As ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiserargues, recusal cannot solve all of the problems that will stem from “the immediate problem of having a man who is likely to be the target of a Justice Department investigation running the Department of Justice.”