Tags: Al Franken | Sessions | Recuse | Russia | Meetings

Sen. Al Franken: Sessions Should 'Immediately' Recuse Himself

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Thursday, 02 Mar 2017 09:52 AM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is offering conflicting accounts of his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and should "immediately" recuse himself from any probe into whether staffers with President Donald Trump's campaign communicated with Russians, Sen. Al Franken said Thursday.

The Minnesota Democrat, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had directly asked Sessions during his confirmation hearings about how how he'd respond if he'd learned the team members had held the meetings, and told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that Sessions gave him an unexpected answer even then.

"He didn't answer my question, which probably should have been, 'I'd recuse myself,'" said Franken. "Instead, he pivoted and said 'well, I was not a campaign surrogate or considered one and I never met with the Russians. And that is, at best, extremely misleading and here we are."

"You say at best it's extremely misleading," said show host Joe Scarborough. "I don't want to be too harsh here but if you just look at it, on the page, I'm saying this as a lawyer, I mean, looks like a lie. It looks like perjury."

The most "charitable interpretation" of Sessions' explanation could mean, said Franken, that he either didn't remember the meeting, which is "hard to believe," or that he meant that "he met with them, but not about the campaign, which he is now saying."

And if Sessions doesn't remember what they talked about, then he doesn't remember they didn't talk about the Trump campaign, said Franken.

But had Sessions commented about meeting on foreign policy, Franken said he would have found it suspicious.

"I certainly would have said 'you need to recuse yourself,' should there be an investigation of this incredibly serious interference by a foreign government, electronic warfare against the United States of America, by this other superpower," said Franken.

At the very least, Session should clarify matters, said Franken, and there should be a special prosecutor in any probe. Also, while other prominent Democrats are calling for Sessions to resign, Franken said "what should be forthcoming is the attorney general coming forward, asking questions about this and coming forward with the truth because, again, he's contradicting himself."

And for Sessions or a spokesman to say the he had no recollection about the conversation, and then to come back and admit they talked, but not about the election, "that's contradictory, and his responses to me weren't accurate."

Franken said he would like to see Sessions answer questions at a press conference, "and then we can decide whether he should resign or not. But he certainly, at the very minimum, should recuse himself. This just makes common sense."

Franken said that it would take both an independent investigation, and for Trump to release his tax returns, to alleviate some of the speculation about the administration's ties to Russia.

"His excuses for not turning over his tax returns during the campaign were completely bogus," said Franken. "You can open your tax returns if you are under audit. And also, I don't think he was under audit because it's easy to prove you're under audit. You produce a letter from the IRS saying you are under audit."

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions is offering conflicting accounts of his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and should "immediately" recuse himself from any probe into whether staffers with President Donald Trump's campaign communicated with Russians...
Al Franken, Sessions, Recuse, Russia, Meetings
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2017-52-02
Thursday, 02 Mar 2017 09:52 AM
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