Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said on Thursday that it would be “premature” for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia in the wake of revelations that Sessions met twice with a Russian ambassador before the election.
“I think that’s premature,” Cornyn said in response to a question on whether Sessions should recuse himself from the probe.
“What we need to do is complete the investigation the Senate Intelligence Committee is having on a bipartisan basis, because we really don’t know what the facts are,” he said.
Cornyn said that nobody knows “what happened” when Session spoke with the ambassador.
“I think that’s why the investigation’s so important,” he said. “I think a bipartisan intelligence committee investigation is the way to go.”
He dodged questioning on whether Sessions should resign if he lied under oath.
“You’re assuming something that’s not in evidence, so that’s why I’m saying the investigation ought to be completed,” Cornyn said.
Sessions denied during his Senate confirmation hearing in January that he had “communications with Russians.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Sessions denied that he discussed “issues of the campaign” with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“I have no idea what this allegation is about,” he said. “It is false.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on Thursday for Sessions to resign as attorney general.
“There cannot be even the scintilla of doubt about the impartiality and fairness of the attorney general, the top law enforcement official of the land,” he said during a news conference. “After this, it’s clear Attorney General Sessions does not meet that test.”
Democrats reiterated their calls for an independent probe into any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and called for Sessions to step down as attorney general.
Two top House Republicans also indicated on Thursday that Sessions should consider recusing himself. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said it would be “easier” for Sessions to recuse himself.
House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) wrote in a tweet that Sessions “should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.”