Capitol Alert

Kamala Harris calls on attorney general to resign over contacts with the Russians

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. signals to an aide as she steps out of the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 1, 2017, during the vote to confirm Interior Secretary-designate Ryan Zinke.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. signals to an aide as she steps out of the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 1, 2017, during the vote to confirm Interior Secretary-designate Ryan Zinke. AP

Sen. Kamala Harris of California is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign following revelations that Sessions, then a Trump-supporting senator from Alabama, twice spoke to the Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign and did not disclose the contacts.

“Attorney General Sessions deceived Congress and the American people, irreparably damaging his integrity, and is therefore ineligible to serve as the top law enforcement official of our country,” said Harris, a Democrat who was the attorney general of California before being elected to the Senate last fall.

Sessions said in response to questioning at his Jan. 10 Senate confirmation hearing that he was not aware of contacts between anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

“I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians,” Sessions said at the time.

Harris said it “is now clear that was a lie.”

“The faith Americans have in both a fair election and their elected officials has been fundamentally damaged and cannot be restored until there’s a full accounting of the facts,” she said. “This is critical to combating future Russian intrusion in our government and electoral process. Attorney General Sessions is a roadblock to that goal.”

Harris and other Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, previously had called on Sessions to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation of possible contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

“If the attorney general refuses to recuse himself, he should resign,” Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Thursday following news of Sessions’ Russian contacts.

Feinstein said a special prosecutor was needed to investigate.

“The ties between Russia and those close to Trump are far deeper than previously admitted and it’s clear the Trump administration is in no position to handle an investigation on its own,” she said.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, is also calling for Sessions to recuse himself and allow an independent review.

“We need a clear-eyed view of what the Russians actually did so that all Americans can have faith in our institutions,” Issa said Thursday. “The Putin government is a bad actor whose actions should be carefully scrutinized, and – regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on – we have a vested interest in fully understanding exactly what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sessions “does not have the integrity to lead the Department of Justice” and should resign his position.

“There must be an independent, bipartisan, outside commission to investigate the full extent of the Trump political, personal and financial connections to the Russians,” she said.

Sean Cockerham: 202-383-6016, @seancockerham

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