Do you believe the attorney general, who already has lied about meeting with Russian officials twice while advising the Trump campaign, or do you believe a skilled Russian spy?
The fact that the American public is being forced to make that character judgment about the nation’s top law enforcement official is enough indication that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ days are numbered.
Sessions already has been booted from Team Trump’s inner circle following the president’s bizarre, unannounced sit-down this week with the “Failing New York Times,” in which Trump threw Sessions under the bus for the world to hear. In that interview, King Trump called Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe “very unfair to the president,” making it clear Trump expects everyone in the higher ranks of U.S. government to serve at the wishes of Donald Trump, or else.
After that interview was published, The Washington Post decided to pull the trigger on a story it had been sitting on since early June, when reporters obtained leaked information about Sessions’ meetings with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Kislyak, they reported, had told his Kremlin handlers following the meetings that Sessions did discuss Russia policy issues extensively while serving as then-candidate Trump’s top foreign policy adviser.
The information came from leaked intelligence reports based on intercepted phone calls Kislyak made to Moscow following the meetings with Sessions in April and July of last year, the newspaper reported.
The story notes:
One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he had no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.
Sessions isn’t backing down from any of this—yet. He refused to resign after Trump’s comments to the Times, and as of Saturday morning, he is standing by his evolving story about the meetings with Kislyak. Those who still support Sessions publicly (especially right-wing talking heads) are framing the argument as mentioned earlier: Who are you going to believe, the attorney general or a Russian spy?
Under normal circumstances, that would be a rhetorical question. And this is why Sessions, ultimately, is screwed either way. Consider the Obama administration; for eight years President Obama faced relentless attacks by Republicans and right-wing bigots, yet not a single major (credible) scandal rocked the White House during his administration, an almost impossible accomplishment. Asking the public to choose between Obama’s attorney general—or that of any other president, for that matter—or a Russian spy is pretty much a no–brainer. Yet, with Sessions, here we are.
Perhaps Kislyak knowingly misled U.S. intelligence officials, who he knew would be listening to his phone call to Moscow, about the conversations with Sessions. If that’s the case, Sessions got played and then made it worse by lying to cover it up. Regardless, now isolated from the White House and most of the public, Sessions doesn’t have too many places left to turn.