You'd think high-level Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi would be shouting at the top of their lungs for serial liar Jeff Sessions to resign from his post as U.S. attorney general. Not only was he caught misleading senators during his confirmation hearing, he once again was found to be lying about the Trump campaign's communications with Russia.
Let's start at the beginning. During hearings for his confirmation as attorney general in January, the homophobic former Alabama senator infamously told Sen. Al Franken, "I did not have communications with the Russians." As The Washington Post reported in March, that was a lie — he met with high-ranking Russian officials at least twice during the presidential campaign. Session skirted out of that one by claiming he was saying he didn't have communications with Russians in his role as campaign surrogate, but instead in his position as senator. Sessions recused himself from the FBI's Russia investigation after that snafu.
Then in June, Sessions returned to the Senate to respond to his initial misleading testimony. He said, under oath, he had "no knowledge" of communication between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Another lie. Unsealed court documents from the arrest of former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos show Sessions knew full well that Papadopoulos was communicating with Russians. Specifically, Papadopoulos was trying to set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that Sessions nixed. For Sessions to claim he forgot about such an important discussion is simply unbelievable (he hasn't commented yet on the unsealed docs, but memory lapse would be the only explanation other than "I lied"), or it means he is too senile to perform his duties.
Yes, some Democrats have once again called for Sessions to resign, but not the top brass. Instead, like some Republicans, they want Sessions to come in and testify to the Senate — again. Why? He'll just lie once more, since it seems there are so few repercussions for his actions. It's inexcusable that we have a noted perjurer heading the Department of Justice.
Meanwhile, the newly released Paradise Papers show Trump Cabinet officials with disturbing ties to Russian business interests. Most concerning is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who failed to disclose his investment in a British shipping company that works very closely with Putin aides and his son-in-law.
"This is a big deal because it’s the first time a member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet has been directly linked through business to Putin’s family or confidants," Vox's Alex Ward reports.
Ross denies wrongdoing, but it's clear he withheld the shipping company's Russia relations from his governmental paperwork — and Ross was well aware of heightened interest in the Cabinet's dealings with the Kremlin. So will Ross resign or be fired by Trump? It's not looking that way; business as usual.
Sure, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was shown the door after he was found to be living a first-class lifestyle on the taxpayers' dime(s). But this was only because his sins were so easy to comprehend and infuriating for Democrats and Republicans (talk about the opposite of draining the swamp). Even if the Sessions and Ross scandals are more opaque, they are still worthy of a pink slip.
It's maddening to think how Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been held to the fire for offenses much less severe than these men. Issues like a tan suit — or even a private email server (something used by Trump son-in-law/senior adviser Jared Kushner) — seem laughable compared to lying about connections to a hostile foreign government that intervened in our presidential election. Women, people of color, and LGBTs are keenly aware that white straight cisgender men play by a different set of rules — and as the election of Trump demonstrates, those men intend to keep those rules in place as long as they can.
NEAL BROVERMAN is the executive editor of The Advocate. Follow him on Twitter @nbroverman.