McCaskill stands up to Sessions; GOP attempts smack-down

Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskilll didn’t waste any time. As soon as we learned that current Attorney General and former Trump campaign advisor, Jeff Sessions, not only met privately with the Russian ambassador at the height of the Russian hacking exercise – a little gift, our intelligence agencies tell us, from Putin to Trump – but lied about it while under oath during his confirmation hearings, she did the right thing and called for his resignation. Get this straight: she didn’t just demand that he recuse himself from investigating his White House patron, but that he resign. Nor are McCaskill’s demands part of a fatuous partisan exercise. The Russian mess is serious and the implications for the Trump administration are potentially huge.

And even if it weren’t about possible collusion with a foreign power, there’s ample precedent to call for Session’s resignation. Perjury is a big deal. Republicans justified impeachment proceedings against President Clinton based on the claim that he lied to Congress while under oath. In 2013, the House Judiciary investigated AG Eric Holder based on claims that he lied under oath and, although they could not substantiate the claim, vociferously called for his resignation. Acting AG under Richard Nixon, Richard G. Kleindienst, was not only forced to resign, but was prosecuted for lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing.

So McCaskill’s not just whistling some partisan dixie. And, of course, she’s taking hate for standing up. Here’s what the spinning-like-a-top Missouri Republican Party has to say about the woman they hope to brand “Lyin’ Claire”:

Today Senator Claire McCaskill used her platform on Twitter in an attempt to discredit U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. The problem? Her tweet was a blatant lie that was exposed by her very own earlier tweets.

McCaskill claims she has been on the Armed Services Committee for 10 years and has never had a call or meeting with the Russian ambassador. Unfortunately, McCaskill’s earlier tweets say just the opposite: “Off to a meeting with Russian Ambassador…” and “Today calls with British, Russian, and German ambassadors re: Iran Deal.”

And indeed McCaskill did tweet that she met with the Russian Ambassador in 2013 – but not in her role on the Armed Services Committee – the rest of the tweet cited above that begins “Off to a meeting with Russian Ambassador” continues ” upset about the arbitrary/cruel decision to end all US adoptions, even those in process.” McCaskill clarified the situation via twitter later. Her spokesperson elaborated:

McCaskill spokeswoman Sarah Feldman said McCaskill’s interactions with Kislyak were materially different than Sessions’. Sessions met with Kislyak one-on-one around the same time Russian actors are believed to have been meddling in the election. McCaskill, on the other hand, met him in a group setting to discuss adoption policy and in a brief phone call about the Iran nuclear deal, Feldman said.

Hardly in the same league as Jeff Sessions. Actually, given the full context, she wasn’t lying at all – despite an absurdly literal response on the part of Politifact. A group meeting with the Russian Ambassador on business other than that of the Armed Forces Committee does not undercut her implicit assertion that members of that committee – apart from Trump campaign surrogate Jeff Sessions – had little or no reason to have contact with the Russian ambassador. In fact, The Washington Post has confirmed that no other member of the committee met with the ambassador last year. Just Jeff Sessions. Who, under oath, denied that the meetings had taken place. Wonder why?

But hey, with Trump and his Russian buddies, his financial conflicts of interest, his strategically unavailable tax returns and, most recently, his bungled Yemen raid, Republicans have got a tough road to hoe when it comes to accountability – especially if they hope to make full use their idiot bill-signing machine to realize the Republican dream of killing New Deal America.

As Michael Tomasky observed about Sessions’ appointment to the AGs office, it was “corrupt for Trump to name him in the first place. It’s becoming clearer and clearer why Trump wanted an attorney general he could trust not to investigate him.” And if they’re not careful, the Republicans springing to Trump’s defense right now are going to be tarred with the same brush – so we can’t blame them for trying to do unto others first, can we? After all, as we have learned over the past eight years, it’s the Republican way.

 

Willy Kessler (33 Posts)

Willy Kessler is a retired librarian who a few years ago relocated to St. Louis. She is alternately delighted and horrified by some of the more gothic aspects of Missouri politics as well as fortified by the persistence of progressives in a reddening state.