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House Conservatives Split Over Sessions

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. (AP Photo)

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Thursday, 02 Mar 2017 10:27 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The major news Thursday from Washington, D.C., was U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' late afternoon announcement he would recuse himself from oversight of the FBI's investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election.

But there was also a little-reported side to the Sessions saga: How many Republicans in the House — who are considered decidedly more conservative than their GOP counterparts in the Senate — were critical of the then-senator from Alabama meeting twice with the Russian ambassador last year and then failing to acknowledge the meetings at his confirmation hearings to be attorney general.

"The attorney general should have disclosed his contact with Russian officials at his nomination hearing, even though the contact came as part of his work on the Senate Armed Services Committee," two-term Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich., said.

Sessions, Moolenaar added, "should clarify the comment he made during his hearing."

Even stronger in his words about Sessions was freshman Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., whose district includes President Trump's "Winter White House" of Mar-a-Lago.

"Jeff Sessions needs to immediately clarify his Senate testimony and recuse himself from any investigation into Russian ties," Mast told reporters hours before Sessions announcement of recusal. "If he cannot commit to ensuring this process is completed with full transparency and integrity, he should resign. The American people are demanding integrity, they are demanding answers, and they deserve an unbiased investigation into the facts."

Four-term Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told Newsmax that Sessions' recusal does not mean 'mean any admission of guilt or impropriety, but the American people deserve a bipartisan investigation free of suspicion."

There were other Republican House Members who rallied to the side of the attorney general and were especially upset at the suggestion of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., he resign.

"This is for now a tempest in teapot," said freshman Rep. John Faso, R-N.Y. "Time will tell if more. But make no mistake: Putin isn't a friend and little will cause the leopard to change his KGB spots."

Perhaps the strongest Sessions defender of all in the House was Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind.

"Clearly, the context of the question [to Sessions] was about communications with Russia as a surrogate for the Trump campaign," Rokita told us. "The Senator then answered the question in that context. If Jeff Sessions had the context wrong, the questioner could have clarified or re-asked, which didn't happen, indicating that the senator satisfied the questioner."

Rokita stressed "a core part of a Senator's job is, in fact, to meet with ambassadors, which is why the question given in any other context but that of a campaign context would have been a dumb question."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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The major news Thursday from Washington, D.C., was U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' late afternoon announcement he would recuse himself from oversight of the FBI's investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election.
House, conservatives, investigation, Jeff Sessions
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2017-27-02
Thursday, 02 Mar 2017 10:27 PM
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