Two Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee repeatedly requested the FBI investigate Attorney General Jeff Sessions for undisclosed contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential race. Both senators have accused Sessions of committing perjury during his confirmation hearing.
On June 2, Democratic Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont publicly released several letters they had sent the FBI requesting an investigation into whether Sessions had further undisclosed contacts with the Russian government. The disclosure arrived amid reports that Sessions had not disclosed a third encounter with Russian officials.
"We know [Sessions] would not tolerate dishonesty if he were in our shoes," Franken and Leahy said in a joint statement, reports CBS News. "If it is determined that the Attorney General still has not been truthful with Congress and the American people about his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign, he needs to resign."
The controversy over Sessions' Russian contacts began during his confirmation hearing. On Jan. 10, Franken asked Sessions how he would react as the head of the Department of Justice if he learned that Trump campaign members had Russian contacts during the presidential election.
"I'm not aware of any of those activities," Sessions responded, under oath. "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians."
On March 1, it was disclosed that Sessions had met with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak twice during the presidential race. While serving as a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September 2016, The Washington Post reports.
On March 2, Sessions recused himself from the DOJ probe into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to subvert the election. The attorney general maintained that his congressional testimony "was honest and correct as I understood it at the time."
On March 7, Franken accused Sessions of perjury in light of his undisclosed contacts with Kislyak.
"It's hard to come to any other conclusion that he just perjured himself," Franken told CNN.
On June 2, it was revealed the FBI was investigating whether Sessions had a third undisclosed private meeting with Kislyak in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., sources familiar with the probe told CNN.
That report prompted Franken and Leahy to reveal that they made three separate requests to the FBI to investigate Sessions. The two senators wrote a letter to former FBI Director James Comey in March, issued another letter in April seeking an update on the investigation and then wrote to Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe on May 12 after Comey's dismissal by President Donald Trump.
Later that evening, Franken stated that Kislyak and Sessions' alleged meeting meeting at the Mayflower Hotel would further undermine the attorney general's congressional testimony.
"Our office has been in contact with the FBI on this," Franken told MSNBC. "And they said they were crafting a response to us. It sounded to us that something was about to break on this."