Sen. Cory Gardner, the Republican representing Colorado, commented on the latest controversy around the Trump campaign, Russia and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a National Public Radio interview that aired this morning. He called for more information on Sessions’ interactions with the Russian ambassador, but didn’t go as far as other Republican lawmakers.
First, the Sessions situation: The new Attorney General had earlier told a Senate committee during his confirmation hearing that he was “not aware” of any contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. He was under oath.
Recent reporting by the Washington Post shows that Sessions himself had met twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States last year, including once in September, which has added fuel to claims that the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia.
Anyway, here’s what Sen. Gardner told interviewer Rachel Martin about the situation.
“Well, I think we have to understand what exactly happened, and I hope Senator Sessions, Attorney General Sessions will come forward and outline exactly what the conversation was, talk about the substance of the meeting and help us understand why it wasn’t brought up before the (confirmation) committee,” he said, calling for “full and open transparency.”
Sessions’ spokeswoman said Sessions did not disclose the meetings because he was acting as a U.S. Senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee at the time. The Washington Post spoke to 19 other members of the Armed Services Committee, all of whom said they did not meet with the ambassador.
NPR next asked Gardner whether Sessions should recuse himself from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election. The Federal Bureau of Investigation works under Sessions’ Department of Justice. Two prominent Republican lawmakers already have called for that recusal.
“I think we need to understand what role if any he will have in the investigation,” Gardner said, adding that he had “full confidence” in the FBI. He said the bureau has provided itself capable of independent investigation.
“If we have more information that changes that, then of course I think there will be a call to do something different. But you know, when you go to a judge, the judge doesn’t issue the verdict before the trial. Let’s figure out the facts here before the next call for action.”
Martin later pointed out that Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, has “insisted that there’s nothing to see here, folks – essentially that there’s no need to finish an investigation.”
Gardner responded that we’ll all know eventually. “Well, again, I think the investigation will show us that,” the Colorado senator said. “If that’s the direction the investigation concludes with, then we’ll know Sean Spicer was right. If there’s different information or different conclusions from the FBI or the intel committee, then clearly he was wrong.”
Gardner reiterated that he believes Russia “attempted to interfere with the election.”
The senator also discussed his lunch with Trump yesterday.
“This conversation yesterday with the president was focused primarily on tax relief and health care – repealing and replacing Obamacare,” he said. “I think we all know what we want, and that is something better than we have today.”