Jeff Sessions' Job Could Be On The Line

by Jessicah Lahitou
Zach Gibson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Another controversy is rocking President Trump's new Cabinet, and yet again Russian contacts are at the core of this latest chaos. Attorney General Jeff Sessions allegedly met on at least two occasions with Russia's U.S. ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the course of Trump's campaign. Sessions denied meeting with any Russians as a Trump surrogate, and the White House has said it didn't know he met with a Russian envoy. The meetings are problematic for a variety of reasons, which all leads to the question: will Sessions be fired?

First off, Sessions joined the Trump campaign in February 2016, before both the Kislyak meetings occurred in July and September 2016. A far more thorny issue is the fact that at his Senate confirmation, Sessions testified that he had not been in contact with Russian officials during Trump's campaign. Finally, there's the current Department of Justice investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and as AG, Sessions is the head of that inquiry.

There are plenty of Democrats calling for Sessions' resignation. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi released a statement that read in part, "Now, after lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the attorney general must resign." Sen. Elizabeth Warren echoed Pelosi's sentiment, tweeting that Sessions' should not have been confirmed in the first place, and should absolutely resign now. Sen. Bernie Sanders called for his resignation, calling Sessions "someone who deliberately misled Congress about his own communications with the Russian government." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also said it would be in the country's best interest for Sessions to step down.

As for Republicans, many are now calling on Sessions to recuse himself from the Department of Justice investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, sent out a tweet reading simply, "AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself." Chaffetz has been under fire from some critics over the past several weeks, many of whom claim he has been overly lenient on Trump and his political allies.

Of course, the ultimate power wielder here is Trump himself. As POTUS, Trump could ask (or demand) Sessions' resignation, though that does not seem likely at the moment. Trump has demonstrated loyalty to those he deems loyal to him, and Sessions seems to have met that standard and then some. As the first sitting senator to endorse Trump, Sessions went out on a limb for a candidate who seemed a long shot at best, with the potential to be a kind of career killer if things went truly south.

On top of that, Sessions maintains that he has done nothing wrong, that his meeting with Kislyak happened under his capacity as a senator, not a Trump campaign official. And so recusal or not, it seems likely that Sessions will keep his day job for the immediate future.