Manchin: Sessions should resign if he lied about Russia contacts

Manchin: Sessions should resign if he lied about Russia contacts
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

The only Senate Democrat who voted to confirm Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE for attorney general says Sessions should resign if he misled Congress about his meetings with a Russian ambassador last year. 

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Graham says he has COVID-19 'breakthrough' infection MORE (D-W.Va.) made the comments to The Daily Beast as Democrats step up their calls for Sessions to resign, or at least recuse himself from any investigations related to the Trump campaign and Russia.  

Manchin also said a recusal won't be enough to satisfy him if Sessions is found to have misled the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in January.

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The language is stronger than Manchin's comments on CNN earlier Thursday, when he said that he and other senators have met with the Russian ambassador and other diplomats as part of their work. Still, Manchin said he would always be upfront about those conversations if asked. 

"In my official capacity as a member of the Armed Services [Committee], wanting to understand the people we have and the people we do business with in a country that I think is the most dangerous country to the United States of America, Russia, you better see if you can some discourse to talk about," he said. 

"Somehow, you have to have some kind of communications."

Manchin has drawn ire from progressives for his decision to vote for Sessions, even before the latest revelations. Some progressive groups are signaling support for a primary challenge from Manchin's left in 2018 as retribution for what they see as acquiescence to the Trump administration. 

Sessions's conversations were first revealed in a Washington Post story on Wednesday evening. The story said he spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on two occasions during the campaign despite his testimony under oath during his confirmation hearing that he "did not have communications with the Russians." 

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The attorney general in a statement said claims he discussed the election with the ambassador are untrue.

"I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false," Sessions said in a statement. 

The FBI has reportedly been investigating contact between officials in the Trump campaign and the Russian government.