It took minutes, not hours, for top congressional Democrats to call on Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign on Wednesday evening after the WaPo reported that he had allegedly met with the Russian ambassador in the months before the election, meetings that Sessions did not disclose during his confirmation hearings.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led the effort late on Wednesday night, accusing Sessions of "lying under oath" during confirmation proceedings about his contacts with the Russians.
"Jeff Sessions lied under oath during his confirmation hearing before the Senate. Under penalty of perjury, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee, 'I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.' We now know that statement is false," Pelosi said in a statement. She then added that "The Attorney General must resign. There must be an independent, bipartisan, outside commission to investigate the Trump political, personal and financial connections to the Russians.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House oversight committee, also called on Sessions to resign, as did Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Richard Painter, the former White House ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, also blasted Sessions and in a statement on Twitter said that "misleading the Senate in sworn testimony about one own contacts with the Russians is a good way to go to jail."
Responding to the WaPo report, in a statement issued early on Thursday morning, Sessions said, "I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false."
To be sure, there is some verbal semantics in play: the WaPo's core allegation is that Sessions did not disclose his meeting with the Russian ambassador Kislyak - which took place in July and September, the second meeting reportedly occurred in Sessions' Senate office - to the Senate when he was asked about "possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow." Sessions’s spokesperson at the Department of Justice, Sarah Isgur Flores, says his answer in January was truthful because he was asked about “the Trump campaign, not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee." She added that "there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer," during the confirmation process, noting that he had over 25 conversations with ambassadors as a member of the Armed Services Committee.