Attorney General Jeff Sessions found himself at the center of controversy this week because he answered a question about the Trump campaign’s contacts with the Russian government without talking about his contacts as a United States Senator.
The assumption made by the media, the Democrats, and even some Republicans was that even routine contact with the Russian government is burdened by suspicion of collusion. Not since the McCarthy era have suspicions reached such levels.
But if Sessions ought to resign, perhaps the entire Senate should quit. Because on Monday — two days before the Washington Post broke the highly scandalous story that Sessions had met the Russian ambassador twice in the course of his duties — every single United States Senator had formal contact with the Russian government. And not just any functionary: they had contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. Worse (apparently) still, they initiated the contact with the Russians.
The contact was a letter, signed by the entire Senate, urging Putin to release a valuable library of Jewish religious texts that was seized by earlier Russian regimes and which has been the subject of a legal and diplomatic dispute in recent decades.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) provided the final signature on the letter, and tweeted proudly about his support for the effort:
For the last year, Hatch has led his colleagues in an effort to recover the texts, including a letter signed by all 100 Senators. (4/6) pic.twitter.com/xACZ73d9m9
— Senator Hatch Office (@SenOrrinHatch) February 28, 2017
None of that means Sessions should have misled Congress — but the point is, again, that he did not. Ordinary contact with foreign governments is such a routine part of the job that he did not think to mention it, just as no one mentioned the Putin letter this week, even in the heat of debate about which senators might have met the Russian ambassador, and when and why.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.