In the wake of demands by Congressional Democrats for Attorney Jeff Sessions’ resignation, and an investigation into any improper contacts he may have had with Russian officials, President Trump called for an investigation into Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and the latter’s contacts with Russian officials. In a post on Twitter, Trump displayed a photograph depicting Schumer apparently enjoying a repast consisting of doughnuts with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We should start an immediate investigation into Senator Schumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!”

In response, Schumer tweeted: “Happily talk regarding my contact with Mr. Putin and his associates; took place in full view of press and public under oath. Would you and your team?” Later, Schumer wrote that he and Putin had been eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

On Thursday, Attorney General Sessions recused himself from any investigations of presidential campaigns, having resisted Democrats’ demands for his resignation. This week, reports in the media claimed that he had not responded fully to Sen. Al franken (D-MN) who had asked during Sessions’ confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Sessions’ contacts with Russian officials during the campaign. A report in the Washington Post quoted Sessions’ response without providing essential context.

During a press conference on Thursday, Sessions said that he had indeed had contacts with Russian diplomats last year but only in his capacity as a US Senator. He did not, he said, have any conversations with Russian officials about the Trump campaign. Franken had not brought up the matter again until yesterday, having until then been apparently satisfied with Sessions’ answers.

Sessions met with Russian officials on two occasions in 2016. At a 2016 a “Global Partners in Diplomacy” conference, Sessions was the keynote speaker. The event was sponsored by the State Department, The Heritage Foundation, and several other entities, and was held in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention. Ambassadors of several countries were invited by the Obama administration to observe the convention, and the State Department handled the coordination of 100 foreign diplomats. After giving his keynote speech, the Russian ambassador and other diplomats congratulated Sessions -- a senator from Alabama at the time -- as he left the stage. That became Sessions first meeting.

On the second occasion, in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sessions met the Russian ambassador again. However, Sessions was not acting at that time as a surrogate for Donald Trump. That is why the meeting was held in his office in the Senate. According to his spokesperson, Sessions discussed with the diplomat the status of bilateral relations of their respective countries.

 

 



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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