Daily Engagement: Call for Jeff Sessions’ Resignation


Daily Engagement is a new, brief, daily feature on Flavorwire. It’s aimed at helping people feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s been doling out daily affronts to human decency.

Every day, we’ll post one easy thing that people can do to continue to resist the current state of politics under the Trump administration, focusing on the creative ways (we are a culture website after all) that citizens are finding to resist.

What’s the issue?

Though it’s fun to stare incessantly at one’s computer screen contemplating how much Jeff Sessions looks like a wet, wigged pinky toe with political aspirations, it’d be even more fun to never have to think about the attorney general again. This is a man who has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign; who, decades ago, accused three black civil rights activists (one of whom was former Martin Luther King, Jr. aide Albert Turner) of voter fraud; who ruled against a suit filed by Alabama schools’ Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance because they promote “a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws”; who’s been one of the most anti-immigrant politicians in Washington; who voted against the Matthew Shepard act to protect LGBT victims of hate crimes; who has been an opponent of both recreational and medical marijuana; who is a climate change skeptic; who… sorry, out of goddamn breath. But oh, wait, right: who, as a soon-to-be-confirmed head of the Department of Justice, seems to have lied under oath. All of the other horrible things he’s done, or attempted to do, are legal, or at least didn’t stop him from becoming attorney general; but it seems Jeff Sessions may have finally done something that isn’t just bad, but also illegal.

As you probably already know very well, the Washington Post shared news yesterday that the just-appointed attorney general had been in contact with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak (yes, the same man Michael Flynn spoke to) during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, despite Sessions having said under oath during his confirmation hearing that he did no such thing. This information led him to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Many are calling for Sessions’ resignation. Democratic Senator Al Franken who asked him the question about communications with Russia during the confirmation hearing, and now Franken has penned a letter demanding that Sessions respond to two questions, writing “if it is determined that you lied under oath to the Committee and the American people, it is your responsibility to resign.” (The questions: “1. In the seven weeks following your confirmation hearing, why did you fail to clarify that you had indeed communicated on more than one occasion with the Russian Ambassador during the 2016 presidential campaign until the Washington Post exposed these interactions? 2. Describe in detail any and all communications between yourself and Russian officials and their associates during the presidential campaign of 2016, including but not limited to in-person conversations, phone calls, meetings, and electronic communications. Also include any such communications between members of your staff, including your Senate staff and any staff that assisted you during the campaign, and Russian officials and their associates.”)

Senator Bernie Sanders issued a similar statement on his website, writing:

We need a Justice Department that will give us the facts about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and their ties to the Trump campaign, not one led by someone who deliberately misled Congress about his own communications with the Russian government. We also must find out what President Trump knew about meetings involving his campaign and the Russians. Attorney General Sessions should resign and a special prosecutor should be appointed to give the American people credible answers about Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election.

Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted:

Former chief white house ethics lawyer Richard W. Painter writes in the New York Times, “President Trump has already fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for misleading Vice President Pence about his conversations with the Russians. Misleading the United States Senate in testimony under oath is at least as serious.”

And finally, David Frum — a senior editor at the Atlantic and former speechwriter for George W. Bush wrote today in a thread on Twitter about how he thinks this confirms the “central thesis” of an article he wrote on Trump and autocracy a while back. The piece questioned how certain vulnerabilities in America’s democracy would hold up to someone like Trump, “who plausibly owes his office at least in part to a clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign intelligence service…who uses the bully pulpit to target individual critics…who creates blind trusts that are not blind, invites his children to commingle private and public business, and somehow gets the unhappy members of his own political party either to endorse his choices or shrug them off.”

What can you do?

If the honesty of the attorney general when speaking under oath (not to mention that person’s honesty when not speaking under oath — which sadly doesn’t mean much, as this consistently “alternative fact”-spewing administration proves) is a concern of yours, consider calling your representatives asking that they advocate for Jeff Sessions’ resignation from his post as attorney general — 5 calls has a script with which you can do so, but you could honestly use any of the above writing from politicians as guidelines for what to succinctly say. There’s also a petition sponsored by DailyKos that you can sign, as well as this, from Move On:

Meanwhile, the Intercept notes that Sessions’ recusal “gives the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee the power to demand a special prosecutor, if they choose to wield it” — so they’d definitely be another group to call, if you want to take this beyond merely asking for Sessions’ resignation, and further push for investigation into ties between the Trump administration and Russia. (The Committee’s phone number is (202) 224-5225; and here are its individual members.)