Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Wednesday called Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ two meetings with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign a “nothing burger,” breaking with several senior Republican leaders.
“What we are seeing is a lot of political theater,” Cruz said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The Texas senator said that Sessions’ meetings with ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which he did not disclose during his confirmation hearings and were first reported by the Washington Post Wednesday night, were a routine part of serving in Congress.
“This morning, everyone is in high dudgeon about the meeting,” Cruz said. “The underlying meeting is a nothing burger. It’s what senators do every day. Meeting with foreign ambassadors, that’s part of the job.”
“I think everyone is getting all worked up because it’s a chance to beat up the attorney general and to beat up the President,” he continued. “But I think the underlying meeting is he is doing his job.”
Top Republicans including House Oversight Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have said that Sessions should recuse himself from investigations related to Russia because of the meetings. Many Democratic leaders are going further, saying that Sessions should resign for lying “under oath” when he told Congress in his testimony that he had no contact with Russian officials.
Cruz disputed that characterization, saying Sessions could have “been more clear” in his comments, but was speaking in his capacity as a senator during the testimony, not as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.
Sessions himself said he would recuse himself from probes into ties between Russian officials and the Trump campaign if “appropriate.”