For one brief moment, it seemed like Donald Trump had finally mastered the art of being a president in the House Chamber Tuesday night. As he stood on the dais and repeated the promises and slogans made throughout his campaign, Trump’s appearance that night — especially his admittedly moving tribute to the widow of Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens — was hailed by Chris Cilizza and even Van Jones as the moment where Trump “became the President of the United States”, even going so far as to say that if he continued to do what he did that night, Trump “would be there for eight years.”
But as Trump tried to create a perception that people of good sense should never believe as fact, the reality of the possible compromise of this Nation’s chief law enforcement officer looms large today. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, well-known for his racist policies, recused himself today from all investigations into Russian ties to the Trump campaign.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, facing a chorus of criticism over his contacts with the Russian ambassador, recused himself Thursday from any current or future investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. His conversations with the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, came amid suspected Russian hacking directed at Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Mr. Sessions said he made the decision after meeting with senior career officials at the Justice Department. He said he would not take part in any investigations “related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.”
He also strongly denied that any of his conversations with Russian officials were related to the presidential campaign. And he said he did not intend to deceive the Senate when he said he had no such meetings with Russian officials.
On the surface, this would seem to be the right thing to do, had this not happened. From the same Times report:
At the confirmation hearing for attorney general in January, Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, asked Mr. Sessions about a CNN report that intelligence briefers had told Barack Obama, then the president, and Mr. Trump, then the president-elect, that Russian operatives claimed to have compromising information about Mr. Trump.
Mr. Franken also noted that the report indicated that surrogates for Mr. Trump and intermediaries for the Russian government continued to exchange information during the campaign. He asked Mr. Sessions what he would do if that report proved true.
Mr. Sessions replied that he was “not aware of any of those activities.” He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”
But the Justice Department acknowledged on Wednesday that Mr. Sessions had twice communicated with the Russian ambassador last year. The first time was in July, at the Republican National Convention, after he gave a speech at an event for ambassadors sponsored by the Heritage Foundation. The second time was a visit to his office by Mr. Kislyak in September. The Washington Post earlier reported both encounters.
Sessions has, quite simply, perjured himself. Simply backing away from an active investigation is not nearly enough to answer for the fact that he lied under oath, and has left the Department of Justice wide open to compromise to the Russians, no matter how many “clarifications” of his testimony he gives.
This story is far from over, as more reports are coming in that Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, has had contact with far more people within the Trump administration than previously believed. At this rate, an argument could be made that the entire administration could be compromised.
More to come.