A Denver political science professor is weighing in on the controversy surrounding revelations that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the presidential campaign.
Sessions said in a news conference on Thursday he won’t take part in any federal investigation of the Trump campaign, including its ties to Russia.
"I believe those recommendations are right and just,” he said. “Therefore, I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign."
Sessions did not disclose his meetings with the Russian envoy during his confirmation hearing, but insisted Thursday he did not mislead the Senate, because he understood a question about contact with Russia to be referring to contacts regarding the campaign. Sessions said he wishes he'd been forthcoming about the discussions.
Dr. Norman Provizer with Metropolitan State University did not buy Sessions’ reasoning.
“Under the circumstances it was inappropriate, and if he had just been open about it then it probably would have blown over,” Provizer said. “It is worse to deny that it occurred.”
President Trump, however, called Sessions “an honest man,” and said the attorney general did nothing wrong. He called the allegations “a total witch hunt.” The president also said Thursday he "wasn't aware at all" of Sessions’ meetings with the ambassador.
Many Democrats have called on Sessions to resign, but it was clear Thursday he had no intention of doing so.
Provizer, though, said politicians should take a course about telling the truth when in these types of situations.
“There are a specific set of circumstances that come into play here, and that’s why we have been looking into it. If he was just a senator talking to a former Soviet representative or Russian ambassador that would have been fine, that wouldn’t have been a problem,” said Provizer.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Air Force One there was nothing “nefarious” about a senator talking to an ambassador.
“He was literally conducting himself as United States senator," Spicer said. "This is what senators do."
While it’s too early to know if the revelations will cause political damage long-term, Provizer said the lesson is full disclosure.
“When you’re not just straight ahead with your answers, you start digging holes. You can fall into, and he fell into them.”