Attorney General Jeff Sessions should be replaced by a special prosecutor if the FBI uncovers criminal activity related to President Donald J. Trump’s campaign aides and Russian officials, according to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.
During a CNN town hall on Wednesday night, Graham addressed a Washington Post story that revealed Sessions spoke to Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, during the presidential campaign.
“If there is something there, and it goes up the chain of investigation, it is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about Trump,” the South Carolina Republican said.
“If there were contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, they may be legitimate; they may be OK. I want to know what happened between the Trump campaign, the Clinton campaign, and the Russians,” Graham continued.
The House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, and Russia’s reported attempts to curtail Hillary Clinton’s chances in the election last year. In January, the FBI released a report concluding Russia had intervened in the election to help Trump win.
However, it didn’t address whether any members of the Trump campaign had participated in the effort.
Democrats and some Republicans are now calling for a special prosecutor to head the investigation into Trump’s campaign advisers and Russia. Some are also calling for Sessions to recuse himself from the investigation and any legal proceedings.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that Sessions, R-Ala., met with Kislyak twice last year, encounters he failed to previously disclose during a January confirmation hearing to become attorney general.
Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”
“I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it,” Sessions responded.
Video of Sessions under oath denying he had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign pic.twitter.com/cnbAP187dZ
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 2, 2017
According to the Post story, the meetings between Sessions and Kislyak took place in July and September, with the second meeting reportedly occurring in Sessions’ Senate office. Sessions was one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers when the meetings took place. He had joined the Trump campaign in February 2016.
In January, Graham confirmed Sessions as Trump’s attorney general. Now Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which are leading investigations into the alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Sessions has previously resisted calls to recuse himself. On Wednesday night, congressional Democrats called on Sessions to resign. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused Sessions of “lying under oath.”
“The Attorney General must resign,” Pelosi wrote in a statement. “There must be an independent, bipartisan, outside commission to investigate the Trump political, personal, and financial connections to the Russians.”
“There may be nothing there,” Graham said on Wednesday night during the CNN town hall. “But if there is something there, that the FBI believes is criminal in nature, then for sure you need a special prosecutor. If that day ever comes, I’ll be the first one to say it needs to be somebody other than Jeff.”