09:10 GMT24 February 2020
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    Representatives of the Democratic Party and their allies are calling for the resignation of United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions over a new political scandal in Washington. Sessions has recently been accused of lying about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation hearing.

    The accusations further forced him to step aside from any current or future investigations related to Donald Trump's election campaign and Russia's alleged interference.

    In response, Sessions rebuffed allegations over his secret ties to the Kremlin. He said his actions were not improper.

    "We talked a little bit about terrorism, as I recall. Somehow the subject of Ukraine came up. I had had the Ukrainian ambassador in my office the day before," Sessions said at a press conference on Thursday.

    Moreover, in an interview with Fox News, he said that meetings with foreign officials are part of his duties.

    "I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with a United States senator meeting with an ambassador from Russia. I learned something perhaps in that meeting – I usually did – and so that’s what happened. Ambassadors were coming by to see me pretty often," he said.

    Sessions also underscored that his communications with Kislyak in 2016 were not regular and included only two encounters.

    At the same time, speaking to media, many American senators expressed support for Sessions, saying that meeting with foreign representatives is part of their job.

    In an interview with NBC, Senator for Texas and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz said that if he was proposed to meet the Russian ambassador he would offer the proposal.

    'Honest Man'

    Commenting on the situation, President Trump said in a Twitter post that Sessions did nothing wrong but "could have stated his response more accurately" in Congress.

    ​Trump also suggested that the campaign against Sessions was an attempt by the Democrats to cling to power after Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the presidential race.

    "This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win," the president said.

    He also called the allegations against Sessions a "witch hunt."

    ​In turn, Sessions told Fox News that the situation around his contacts with Kislyak had been "hyped beyond reasons" by the media and criticism of them was "unfair."

    After Sessions testified in Congress the US Justice Department and the White House states that he met with the Russian ambassador in 2016 as a senator and member of the Armed Service Committee. Thus, according to the Trump administration, Sessions was not lying to Congress.

    Sessions’ Recusal

    In view of the tense situation, Sessions decided to recuse from any investigation into alleged ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

    "I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States," he said.

    In a statement, the Justice Department stressed that Sessions’ recusal should not be regarded as a confirmation that such an investigation is already underway.

    ​Commenting on the situation, Sessions said at a press conference that his decision to step aside was independent. If any investigation into the 2016 election moves forward US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dane Boente will replace Sessions to oversee those matters.

    'Constitutional Crisis'

    According to Gilbert Doctorow of the American Committee for East-West Accord, the situation with Sessions and the previous scandal over former national security advisor Michael Flynn are links in a chain. This is how the Democrats are struggling to remove Donald Trump from the post.

    "This is a constitutional crisis. Either Trump will make take steps to shake up the ranks of intelligence agencies in order to prevent leaks aimed at sabotaging his presidency, or the situation will end up in an impeachment or something even more serious," the expert told RT.

    Doctorow said that in this political game there is no reason for Trump to give up Sessions.

    Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Congress Hall in Philadelphia on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017
    © REUTERS / David Swanson/The Philadelphia Inquirer
    "There are those who want blood. If Trump sacrificed Sessions this would not be a solution," he pointed out.

    Former MI5 intelligence officer Annie Machon noted that allegations about Trump’s imaginary ties with Russia have grown unprecedented, but in fact they are "absurd and resemble a McCarthyite witch hunt."

    "There are inflated requirements for those appointed by Trump. The situation is unprecedented. Previously, senior intelligence officials were already accused of lying but no one called for an investigation. Nothing was done on the matter," Machon told RT.

    'Media Vandalism'

    Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova criticized the US mainstream media over its reports on contacts between Sessions and the Russian ambassador.

    "It’s a shame. What is going on in the Western, particularly in the US media, is just some manifestation of media vandalism. First of all, it's an attempt of total disinformation," she said at her weekly briefing on Thursday.

    The Kremlin commented on the situation, stressing that Russia has never attempted to interfere in US domestic affairs, including the 2016 election.

    "We certainly would not want to in any way intervene in the emotionally charged atmosphere taking place in the United States. We can only repeat once again that Russia has never interfered, does not interfere and does not intend to interfere in the internal affairs of other states, and especially in other states' election campaigns," Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

     

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    Tags:
    media, political scandal, investigation, US Department of Justice, Sergei Kislyak, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, Russia, United States
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