Via The Huffington Post
Trump Team’s Ties To Russia Face Sharper Scrutiny Amid New House Probe And Explosive Reports
Pressure grows for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from investigations into the scandal.
WASHINGTON ― A series of bombshell revelations Wednesday night cast new light on Donald Trump’s potential ties to the Russian government during the course of the presidential campaign and seem likely to escalate calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the matter.
The New York Times reported that intelligence officials working for the Obama administration had grown so concerned about the scope of Russia’s meddling in the elections and the evidence of ties to Trump’s operation that they began to leave a breadcrumb trail of clues for future investigators to follow. Among those data points that had them spooked were a series of meetings that affiliates of the Trump campaign and the Russian government allegedly held in European capitals ― meetings that the Trump White House has consistently denied ever took place.
About an hour later, The Washington Post published its report that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States and failed to disclose it to lawmakers during his January confirmation hearing. Sessions had been a top surrogate for the Trump campaign and a senior member of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee. The newspaper noted that no other member of that committee could recall speaking to the Russian ambassador.
U.S. investigators have looked into Sessions’ communications with the Russian diplomat as part of a broader investigation into possible links between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, The Wall Street Journal reported later on Wednesday.
Justice Department officials told The Washington Post that Sessions met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his role as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee rather than as a Trump campaign adviser. (The Post could not identify a member of the committee who had met with Kislyak last year.)
Sessions followed up late Wednesday with a statement: “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.”
The three articles stoked the fires of a controversy that has roiled Washington and threatened to derail the Trump administration’s agenda just months into the president’s term. The White House and most congressional Republicans have so far resisted calls to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Russia’s role in the election. But by Wednesday evening, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was conceding that one might be needed in light of the Sessions revelation.