Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday asked the FBI director to open a criminal investigation into whether Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThose predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold The metaverse is coming — society should be wary MORE lied under oath when he denied having any contact with Russian officials.
In a letter, the lawmakers called on FBI Director James Comey and Channing D. Phillips, the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., to probe whether Sessions lied to Congress under oath and broke the law.
“Efforts by Attorney General Sessions to assert that his testimony was not false or even misleading because he met with the Russian Ambassador in his capacity as a Senator, rather than a campaign representative, appear to be disingenuous at best as the questions put to him did not in any way ask if the meeting was campaign related,” they wrote.
Pressure mounted on Thursday for Sessions to recuse himself from investigations into potential Russian contacts with President Trump’s campaign following a Washington Post report that revealed he spoke with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in 2016.
Sessions denied having any contact with Russian officials during oral and written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing to be attorney general.
During that hearing, Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate seat Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' MORE (D-Minn.) asked Sessions what he would do if he learned of evidence that Trump campaign associated were in contact with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.
“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions said, adding that “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
Sessions was also asked by Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyThe Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure Welch to seek Senate seat in Vermont MORE (D-Vt.) in a written question if he had been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election before or after Election Day.
“No,” Sessions responded.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah) are now calling on Sessions to clarify his testimony and recuse himself from any Justice Department investigation related to Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 election.
Democrats, meanwhile, are calling on Sessions to resign, less than a month after being sworn in as attorney general.
Sessions has maintained he spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, not as a representative for the Trump campaign. Sessions was the first GOP senator to endorse Trump, and one of his top Senate staffers, Stephen Miller, is now a senior aide to President Trump.
“I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign,” Sessions said in a statement. “I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
But the House Judiciary Committee Democrats said they are skeptical of Sessions’s explanation. The Washington Post noted in its story that of the 26 members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2016, none of the 20 who responded met with the Russian ambassador last year.
“His efforts to down play the contacts as ordinary business for a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee also seem questionable given that other Members of the Committee have not indicated that they had similar meetings with the Russians,” they wrote.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night that federal investigators have reviewed contacts Sessions had with Russian officials while he was advising Trump’s presidential campaign.