EDITORIAL: REFUSE TO RECUSE -- Yet to complete a full month in his new role, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has found himself embroiled in controversy for failing to disclose at his confirmation hearing two conversations in 2016 with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. On Thursday, amid a flurry of outrage from partisan Democrats, who called for his resignation, some timid Republicans caved to political pressure and suggested that Sessions recuse himself from the investigation into alleged ties between the Kremlin and the White House. The attacks against one of America’s most lauded legislators stinks of the same “much ado about nothing” indignation that arose from an innocent photo of Kellyanne Conway attempting to locate Frederick Douglass during an Oval Office meeting with black higher education leaders. There are countless inconsistencies that lawmakers are ignoring. In fact, Attorney General Sessions is the most qualified person to oversee inquiries into the actions of Senator Sessions. He alone has critical information that remains hidden from others.
The Sessions Concessions in Senate Confirmation SessionsOn January 10, during the ridiculously combative probing by uppity liberals in the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, a civil rights champion was berated by a failed comedian. That’s right, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) was grilled and manipulated by erstwhile “Saturday Night Live” writer Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
Franken asked Sessions, as the Washington Post explained, “what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.”
“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also sent Sessions a questionnaire, which demanded a written response to the pointed query: “Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?”
Sessions offered a brilliantly tempered response: “No.”
Of course, he has now been branded a liar, a risk to national security and another official tasked with covering up President Trump’s supposed collusion with Moscow. The New York Times, a faltering captain straddling the bowsprit of a crippled ship called the S.S. Lügenpresse, reveled in the crisis. The publication bragged of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chair of the House Oversight Committee, tweeting that Sessions must “clarify his testimony and recuse himself.” Then there’s Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who invoked his friendship with Sessions while sharpening the knife for his back: “Jeff Sessions is a former colleague and a friend, but I think it would be best for him and for the country to recuse himself from the D.O.J. Russia probe.”
And the list of cowards, with their pusillanimous litanies, goes on. But we shouldn’t forget the screechy harpies across the aisle -- people like Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren who, without a moment’s hesitation, donned their Queen of Hearts costumes to scream, “Off with his head!”
So what’s at the heart of the issue? Here’s one thing NYT gets right: “The clash was the latest escalation in the continuing fallout over what intelligence officials have concluded was Russian interference in the 2016 election to help President Trump, including by hacking Democratic emails and providing them to WikiLeaks for release.”
Yes, the Russians, of their own volition, likely intervened in the American democratic process for reasons we have yet to understand. And it’s true that Sen. Sessions spoke with that country’s ambassador throughout the previous year. He didn’t, however, consider those interactions germane to the harsh interrogations of Al Franken and his fellow congressional comics.
On Wednesday, Sessions cleared up the confusion, and the fake media looked the other way. Attorney General Sessions said he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.” That’s correct. He never spoke with Russia while serving as attorney general.
Here’s another truth, verified by Justice Department officials: Senator Sessions met with Ambassador Kislyak in September, but not as a Trump campaign surrogate. Sessions was still a member of the extremely influential Armed Services Committee. In that capacity, he was required to engage in over two dozen discussions with foreign authorities -- some allies, some rivals -- Russia included.
Could the senator’s dialog with former Soviet criminals in places like China and Russia have been illicit? Sure. Should the senator be investigated and, if determined guilty, face punishment? Absolutely. But we’re talking about Senator Jeff Sessions, not Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Two different positions. Two distinct officials. Two different people, in context. And with Attorney General Sessions’ deep, intimate knowledge of the inner workings of Sen. Sessions’ twisted psyche, who better to lead the charge for the truth? If the nation’s top legal enforcer steps down through recusal, we may never get to the bottom of the conspiracy. The senator has a reputation of being crafty. Only a cunning attorney general like Sessions would have a fighting chance.
The Only Hypocrisy is Asking Attorney General to Recuse HimselfNot to be outdone by the Times, the Post decided to paint a portrait of Sessions’ hypocrisy by outlining his exhortations to prosecute officials caught perjuring themselves under oath, and even supporting the ouster of an attorney general.
During the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998, Sessions rebuked the president’s lies. A year later, he remarked that, “In America, the Supreme Court and the American people believe no one is above the law. The president has gotten himself into this fix that is very serious.”
Did Sen. Sessions wilfully perjure himself by flagrantly misleading Congress through intentional untruths? Probably. But that Jeff Sessions was not the attorney general.
The Post also recalled the time when then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Clinton met privately on a plane in Arizona to discuss the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s suspicious and damning emails. Sen. Sessions was staunchly critical, and chastised Lynch for her role in avoiding charging Hillary with a crime. He demanded the assignment of special counsel and remained open to forcing her resignation.
“That’s a total abandonment of her responsibility, of course,” Sessions said on Fox Business Network. “The FBI director can make a recommendation to her, but she’s the one that decides whether or not to bring a case before the grand jury. So I didn’t like that. I didn’t like the meeting that you mentioned on the airplane.”
Sen. Sessions has constantly championed transparency, ethics and honesty in trusted officials. But he now stands guilty of committing nearly all the same transgressions and perpetrating fraud on the American people. Senator Sessions could very well have misled his constituency and colleagues. As the Nation summarized nicely, Sen. Sessions has placed himself on the wrong end of practically every issue: “In less than a month on the job, he’s reversed the Obama administration’s positions on voter-ID laws, private prisons, transgender rights, police abuse, and marijuana legalization.”
Let’s not forget his endorsement of the KKK, until he discovered some members partook of the devil’s lettuce. Or his tortuous, puritanical proposal for a radical overhaul of existing anti-terrorism strategies based on “historical and scientifical” interrogation plans developed in 17th Century Salem, Mass., as part of the witch hunts.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, as a Republican figurehead, is a terrible person. He has demonstrated a consistent meddling in the affairs of private citizens on behalf of the government. As a conservative, he has no business caring about the lives of minorities, sodomites, women or a revered Christian community with a few pot-smoking miscreants. Their fates are for voters to decide.
But there exists no evidence to support any wrongdoing in Sessions’ communications with Russia as a member of the Armed Services Committee. Still, uncertainties abound. Yet there is no individual more familiar with Sen. Sessions’ motives than our current attorney general, an upstanding adherent of U.S. law. As such, it is his avowed, God-given duty to investigate Sen. Sessions. There is a precedent.
Remember that Donald Trump interviewed disgraced former CIA Director David Petraeus for the role of Secretary of State. After the meeting, Trump told reporters that he was “very impressed” with the retired general, who is currently on probation for distributing classified government intelligence through personal email servers. In 2012, Petraeus uncovered his own affair after discovering incriminating emails he sent to a woman. He said Secretary of State Petraeus would reopen his investigation into Gen. Petraeus’ wrongdoing to ensure no conflict of interest. He also discussed the possibility of imposing an even harsher sentence on himself based on the renewed findings.
Russia Devastated at Ghosting by U.S. OfficialsThe question Attorney General Sessions must address presently is the nature of the discourse Sen. Sessions carried on with Ambassador Kislyak. From what domestic intelligence agencies have discovered, negotiations between Moscow and Washington hint at an alignment of objectives. As a vocal supporter of Trump’s presidency, Sen. Sessions could have strategized with Kislyak about the following agenda items.
- Official U.S. recognition of the Kremlin’s claims on annexing Crimea as part of Russia.
- Dismantling NATO and alienating allies, which would help Putin overthrow Eastern Europe and Asia.
- Creating a trade war between the United States and China or Mexico, undermining America’s credibility as a lender.
- A full U.S. retreat from global human rights issues, which have constrained Putin’s geopolitical ambitions.
- Transforming the United States into a completely isolationist regime, freeing Russia to engage in imperialism abroad.
As you can see, not one of the scenarios has anything to do with Sen. Sessions colluding with Russia to help Trump’s campaign. Every point involves a policy decision affecting the Armed Services Committee, even if favorable to Trump’s plans. No open case of voter fraud, no explicit proof of hacking, nothing campaign related. Not even a scrap of paper or minute of film footage showing Sessions bathing in the rancid urine of Ukraine sex workers. However, Kislyak and Putin confessed emotional devastation over the refusal of Trump, Sessions, Flynn and others to acknowledge that warm colloquies took place.
“I am saddened, deeply, that my friend Jeff, with whom I spent so many intimate moments, now pretends that we have never talked -- that we never had a special relationship,” Ambassador Kislyak told Pravda. “He unliked my Facebook page. He told his American friends he didn’t share part of himself with me. He stiffed our hotel with the bill for cleaning Mr. Trump’s bedsheets. They were so bad, we had to burn them. This, right after Valentine’s Day. We are all so heartbroken.”
Until officials finish their comprehensive investigation of Russia’s ties to Trump cabinet members, we will not know the extent of Sen. Sessions involvement with Moscow. Chief Adviser Steve Bannon worries that pressing former Sen. Sessions to disavow Russian ties may lead to a collapse in the tenuous alliance. But he, like so many of us, has the utmost confidence that Attorney General Sessions remains the most qualified person to lead the investigation. Recusal is retreat. Americans never quit.
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