Poor Jeff Sessions. As a deep-red Alabama Republican rejected by the Bush-era conservative establishment, the Trump presidency should be going swimmingly. Unfortunately for Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, reports of secret meetings with a Russian ambassador (Jeff Sessions! Superspy!) — meetings he denied existing while asked under oath — are taking hammer and sickle to his career. In light of these revelations, politicians of all stripes should support Sessions’ recusal in a White House-Russia probe and aggressively investigating those ties.
The allegations leveled against the attorney general are clearly more than just partisan mud-slinging aimed to mar the veneer of a successful address by the president. I’m also not sure where that line of reasoning came from, but someone in the Trump administration was tasked with its creation. This complex, paranoid explanation of democratic decision-making speaks volumes to the lengths the White House is willing to go to protect their own. It’s destructive when done in the face of obvious danger.
Congressional Republicans are no different. Of the Texas Senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both have blown off the accusations as nothing serious. Senator Cornyn sees no issues because Sessions answered the Al Franken question on Russian involvement during the election. According to Cornyn, answering a question is good enough; the content of the answer doesn’t matter. Cruz, somehow, managed to do worse — calling the whole situation a “nothing burger,” citing, of course, the little-known feature of Whataburger’s secret menu. Of the 27 Texas Republicans in Congress, only one, Rep. Ted Poe, has expressed any interest in the inconsistent tale told by the attorney general. Republicans should take note from Democrat Joaquin Castro of San Antonio who expressed qualms over the strange circumstances of the Russian meetings.
The Republican party has to do better. They do not need to call for resignations, but they should consider embracing a deeper look into the Sessions testimony. It should seem strange that neither Sessions nor his staff can remember what was discussed with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. It should seem strange that none of the other 26 members of the Armed Services Committee met privately with the ambassador during the intense scrutiny of the presidential election. It should seem strange that the Sessions meetings occurred while he was a surrogate of the Trump campaign. These unusual proceedings are only a big “nothing burger” when politicians are wearing blinders, when political expediency demands looking the other way. In order to maintain the integrity and sovereignty of the U.S. government, congressional conservatives must show some grit.
This tradition of avoidance and dismissal is not new. It is not novel to this administration or even the GOP. Democrats and Republicans both have a strong instincts that they use to equivocate and explain their way out of awkward situations. However, this time the stakes are higher and the need is greater. Democrats are not creating much ado about nothing. Republicans should recognize this.
Hasan is a business freshman from Plano. Follow him on Twitter @UzzieHasan.