Democrats trying to sustain a controversy around U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 election are overplaying their hand, a Washington Post reporter said Thursday.
Philip Bump wrote a timeline on Sessions’ interactions with the Russian ambassador:
Put together a timeline on what Sessions did and said, and am now thinking that Dems are overplaying their hand. https://t.co/qSyBftV9Lf
— Philip Bump (@pbump) March 2, 2017
Sessions met Kislyak and dozens of other ambassadors during a Heritage Foundation event in July 2016. He also had a conversation with Kislyak in his Senate office while serving on the Armed Services Committee in September. In an initial report, the Washington Post darkly intoned their meeting took place “at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race,” insinuating that merely communicating with one nation’s ambassador means one is involved in a conspiracy.
Democrats also tried to paint a picture of a vast conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during Sessions’ confirmation hearings. An extremely questionable intelligence community dossier allegedly showed “there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government,” Minnesota Sen. Al Franken told Sessions, asking “if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”
Sessions said he was “not aware” of ongoing communications between Russia-linked actors. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it,” he said.
When the Washington Post revealed that Sessions had met with Kislyak on two occasions, Democrats began calling for his resignation. Sessions may have “committed perjury” and even poses a threat to national security, as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday night. “After lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also demanded Sessions’ resignation.
Democrats, reeling from their electoral losses, want to use a Trump-Russia controversy to demand investigations into Russia’s so-called “role” in the 2016 election that will force out critical allies of Trump out of Washington, D.C. and possibly target Trump himself for impeachment.
The Washington Post‘s chronicle of Sessions’ interactions with Russian officials and the Trump campaign can be read here.