Yesterday was a relatively quiet one in the world of the White House. After Tuesday night’s Joint Sessions speech was praised by the press because Donald Trump managed to go a full hour without throwing up on his shoes, the White House decided they’d try to remain quiet and let the speech fill an entire news cycle. There was no press briefing. Trump did not sign any executive orders (in fact, he postponed the EO on his new travel ban), and Kellyanne Conway did not make up any fake shootings for an entire day.
Then last night, all hell broke loose, as the Times, Post, and Wall Street Journal all came out with damning new reports about Trump and his campaign’s connections to Russia. The most explosive report comes from the Journal and the Post, which both reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to the same Russian ambassador that Michael Flynn spoke to, Sergei Kislyak. He spoke to Kislyak twice, once during the Republican National Convention, while the other time was a private conversation from his Senate office in September, during the height of the Russian hacking campaign against America’s election.
That’s bad in and of itself, but Jeff Sessions also lied about it, under oath, when he denied having any conversations with Russian officials during his confirmation hearing. That right there is perjury, folks, and Jeff Sessions is on record saying that anyone who perjures themselves should resign.
Sessions (through a spokesperson) is claiming that the conversation doesn’t count as communicating with Russian officials because he did so as a Senator and not as a Trump advisor. Sessions claims the conversation came as a result of his role in the Armed Services Committee. However, NBC is reporting that none of the other 20 members of the Armed Service Committee ever spoke to Kislyak. Never.
BREAKING: NBC Can't Find Even _One_ Other Senate Armed Services Committee Member Who Spoke w/ Russian Ambassador Even Once; 20 of 20 Say No.— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) March 2, 2017
Only hours into this controversy, there are already calls among some for Jeff Sessions to resign because he perjured himself (and people have been forced to do so for less) and, at the very least, it creates more pressure on the Republicans to assign a special prosecutor to the investigation, because Jeff Sessions is clearly conflicted out. Pelosi is calling upon Sessions to quit, as is Elizabeth Warren. Even Lindsay Graham is saying that if Sessions spoke with a Russian diplomat, then “for sure” we need a special prosecutor. George Bush’s ethics lawyer, meanwhile, says that the communication between Sessions and a Russian diplomat is “a good way to go to jail.”
It should be noted again that Sessions does not deny having these conversations. He simply said that he didn’t discuss the campaign. He’s trying to get out of a perjury charge based on a technicality. When asked by Al Franken if Sessions had spoken with any Russian officials, Sessions gave a flat “no,” as his answer, but now he’s claiming that the “No,” implied, “Yes, but not about Trump’s campaign.”
What the hell is Sessions hiding?
Meanwhile, the NYTimes has a wide, long-ranging report on the Obama administration’s role in “preserving intelligence” in the waning weeks and days (and even hours) of the administration. Intelligence officials were frantic about preserving, documenting and disseminating as widely as possible all the intelligence it could amass about Trump and his campaign’s communications with Russia during the campaign. They did so out of fear that Trump would cover up or destroy evidence once he was in office. Among the details it was trying to preserve was this:
American allies, including the British and the Dutch, had provided information describing meetings in European cities between Russian officials — and others close to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — and associates of President-elect Trump, according to three former American officials who requested anonymity in discussing classified intelligence.
Separately, American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates.
Trump, meanwhile, continues to deny that he or his campaign had contacts with the Russians during the election. The White House is not saying that campaign officials met with Russians but didn’t talk about the campaign; the White House is saying that they categorically did not meet with Russians. The Intelligence Community says otherwise. Someone needs to pony up some photographs.
Trump is lying. Sessions lied. They’re clearly hiding something (and we all know what it is: Collusion). A special prosecutor is necessary, and the Post, at least, believes that it’s political suicide at this point if the Republicans do not ask for one.