Column: Jeff Sessions is the new Russian connection
Senator Jeff Sessions speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC in 2011. The Justice Department recently revealed that Jeff Sessions had undisclosed meetings with the Russian Ambassador to the United States.
President Trump’s appointees have had a troubling relationship with Russia to say the least. On February 13 Michael Flynn resigned as national security advisor. On March 1, it was revealed that sessions had previously engaged in conversation with Russia’s ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. On March 2, Sessions had recused himself of any investigation anything related to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Many people are brushing these instances off as a witch hunt or a technicality, but we should be concerned.
For those of you who don’t know the story of Flynn and Sessions I’ll give an abridged version.
At the end of December, President Obama placed sanctions on Russian in retaliation to election tampering. A small period of time later, Michael Flynn called Russian ambassador Kislyak to discuss sanctions and to encourage Russia to avoid retaliatory sanctions. Flynn denied any sort of interaction. Evidence was later found that the conversation had occurred and the justice department briefed President Trump that Flynn may be at risk of Russian blackmail. Flynn resigned on February 13 as such accusations would make his job impossible to perform.
During the 2016 election, Jeff Sessions, a strong supporter of the Trump campaign, engaged in two separate conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. During his congressional confirmation hearing, Sessions denied having any contact with Russian officials while acting as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.
With information coming out on March 1, that Sessions did in fact have contact with Kislyak, his testimony in front of congress—while under oath— is damning. Some are going as far as calling it perjury.
Whatever the eventual fall out of this is, Sessions has recused himself from of any investigation related to Trumps election campaign.
Whatever your political leanings, this is concerning. There’s an increasing frequency of reports of Russia tampering or influencing our political system in a manner which this country has never seen.
Some of you may firmly believe that Russia is the reason why Trump won the election, others will write that off as “fake news” and honestly it’s hard to know with certainty to know who is right. Outlooks on the issue should and will change as new information is brought forward, but for now, we have what seems like two confirmed cases of Russia trying to influence our executive branch.
I don’t believe we should demonize Russia. I want our countries to engage in mutually beneficial economic and defense agreements. It would be amazing if we no longer had to think of Russia as the “Bond villain” of global politics, but we can’t improve our relationship with them unless we come together as equal partners.
As long as there are Russian attempts to gain influence over US officials, we wont be able to find that common ground.
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