Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III lied under oath to the Senate about communications with the Russian ambassador

Our “Confederate rebel” Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is already in hot water for having lied under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings about communications with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.

The Washington Post reports, Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose:

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.

The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.

When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, the senator was a senior member of the influential Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump on the stump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.

At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Officials said Sessions did not consider the conversations relevant to the lawmakers’ questions and did not remember in detail what he discussed with Kislyak.

“There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer,” said Sarah Isgur Flores, Sessions’s spokeswoman.

In January, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Sessions for answers to written questions. “Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Leahy wrote.

Sessions responded with one word: “No.”

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Sessions said he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”

Communicating with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. is communicating with the Russian government. The questions calls for a yes or no answer. “I did not have communications with the Russians” is misleading no matter how one chooses to prevaricate or parse the English language. It is exactly the same as Bill Clinton’s “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” and “I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.” You either did, or you did not.

Speaking about allegations of perjury against former president Bill Clinton in 1999, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said “no one is above the law.” Sessions on perjury: ‘No one is above the law’. Ah, but IOKIYAR.

Justice officials said Sessions met with Kislyak on Sept. 8 in his capacity as a member of the armed services panel rather than in his role as a Trump campaign surrogate.

“He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee,” Flores said.

She added that Sessions last year had more than 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian and German ambassadors, in addition to Kislyak.

In the case of the September meeting, one department official who came to the defense of the attorney general said, “There’s just not strong recollection of what was said.”

The Washington Post contacted all 26 members of the 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee to see whether any lawmakers besides Sessions met with Kislyak in 2016. Of the 20 lawmakers who responded, every senator, including Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), said they did not meet with the Russian ambassador last year. The other lawmakers on the panel did not respond as of Wednesday evening.

“Members of the committee have not been beating a path to Kislyak’s door,” a senior Senate Armed Services Committee staffer said, citing tensions in relations with Moscow. Besides Sessions, the staffer added, “There haven’t been a ton of members who are looking to meet with Kislyak for their committee duties.”

* * *

When asked to comment on Sessions’s contacts with Kislyak, Franken said in a statement to The Post on Wednesday: “If it’s true that Attorney General Sessions met with the Russian ambassador in the midst of the campaign, then I am very troubled that his response to my questioning during his confirmation hearing was, at best, misleading.”

Franken added: “It is now clearer than ever that the attorney general cannot, in good faith, oversee an investigation at the Department of Justice and the FBI of the Trump-Russia connection, and he must recuse himself immediately.”

Several Democratic members of the House on Wednesday night called on Sessions to resign from his post.

“After lying under oath to Congress about his own communications with the Russians, the Attorney General must resign,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement, adding that “Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Twitter late Wednesday that “we need a special counsel to investigate Trump associates’ ties to Russia.”

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said at a CNN town hall Wednesday night that if the substance of Sessions’s conversations with the Russian ambassador proved to be improper or suspect, he too would join the call for Sessions to go.

“If there is something there and it goes up the chain of investigation, it is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make that decision about Trump,” Graham said — although he stressed that Sessions’s contacts with the Russian ambassador could have been “innocent.”

“But if there’s something there that the FBI thinks is criminal in nature, then for sure you need a special prosecutor. If that day ever comes, I’ll be the first one to say it needs to be somebody other than Jeff.”

* * *

Steven Hall, former head of Russia operations at the CIA, said that Russia would have been keenly interested in cultivating a relationship with Sessions because of his role on key congressional committees and as an early adviser to Trump.

Sessions’s membership on the Armed Services Committee would have made him a priority for the Russian ambassador. “The fact that he had already placed himself at least ideologically behind Trump would have been an added bonus for Kislyak,” Hall said.

Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor who until 2014 served as U.S. ambassador to Russia, said he was not surprised that Kislyak would seek a meeting with Sessions. “The weird part is to conceal it,” he said. “That was at the height of all the discussions of what Russia was doing during the election.”

Two months before the September meeting, Sessions attended a Heritage Foundation event in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention that was attended by about 50 ambassadors. When the event was over, a small group of ambassadors approached Sessions as he was leaving the podium, and Kislyak was among them, the Justice Department official said.

Sessions then spoke individually to some of the ambassadors, including Kislyak, the official said. In the informal exchanges, the ambassadors expressed appreciation for his remarks and some of them invited him to events they were sponsoring, said the official, citing a former Sessions staffer who was at the event.

Democratic lawmakers, including senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have demanded in recent weeks that Sessions recuse himself from the government’s inquiry into possible ties between Trump associates and Russia.

Last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, became one of the few Republican representatives to state publicly the need for an independent investigation.

Top Republicans said Thursday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from federal investigations of whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Top Republicans call on Sessions to recuse himself from Russia investigation:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) tweeted early Thursday that “AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.”

Later, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said in a statement, “Jeff Sessions is a former colleague and a friend, but I think it would be best for him and for the country to recuse himself from the DOJ Russia probe.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also initially said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Sessions should bow out to maintain “the trust of the American people.”

But McCarthy later said his comment had been misinterpreted, telling Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” “I’m not calling on him to recuse himself. I was asked on ‘Morning Joe,’ if he needs to recuse himself as going forward. As you just heard, Attorney General Sessions said he would recuse himself going forward — appropriate, and that’s all my answer was.”

The comments from prominent Republicans follow revelations that Sessions met with the Russian ambassador during election season. Under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions had said that he had not met with any Russian officials.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined growing Democratic calls for Sessions to either resign or at least recuse himself from any investigations into Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections.

“Attorney General Sessions cannot possibly lead an investigation into Russian interference in our elections or come anywhere need it. With these revelations, he may indeed become the subject of it,” Schumer told reporters. “Better for the country if he resigns, but let’s get an investigation going.”

Schumer is insisted that the Justice Department’s inspector general carry out an investigation of Sessions himself regarding any previous communications with Russian officials and what related steps, if any, he has taken since assuming leadership of the department.

McCarthy and Chaffetz are the first prominent Republicans to call for Sessions to recuse himself. Some Democrats went further, calling on Sessions to resign, demanding an independent investigation and, in a few cases, accusing Sessions of lying under oath.

* * *

The demands by Pelosi, Schumer and others are a clear sign that Democrats have lost all faith in the Trump team to carry out the Russia-related investigations.

Though Congress has the power to appoint a special prosecutor, it has traditionally deferred the choice to Justice Department officials. This time, however, Democrats want to ensure that a non-political Justice Department official makes the selection.

* * *

Schumer called for legislation to give Congress a better backstop, if lawmakers aren’t satisfied with the choice, by rewriting the independent counsel law. The new legislative proposal would be more narrowly tailored than the previous independent counsel law that has long since expired. Under the New Democratic plan, a three-judge panel would be tasked with appointing the prosecutor, according to Schumer aides.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is also demanding a special counsel to investigate the Trump administration for ties to Russia, “given AG Sessions’ false statements about contacts with Russia.”

And House Oversight and Government Affairs ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings (Md.) called for Sessions to resign. He criticized the attorney general for keeping “secret” his conversations with Kislyak, even after then-national security adviser Michael Flynn was fired for misleading Vice President Pence about his contacts with the same Kremlin official.

“When Senator Sessions testified under oath that ‘I did not have communications with the Russians,’ his statement was demonstrably false, yet he let it stand for weeks,” Cummings remarked in a statement. “Attorney General Sessions should resign immediately, and there is no longer any question that we need a truly independent commission to investigate this issue.”

* * *

Republicans [have been] more cautious, so far stopping short of calling for an outside investigation. Currently, the House and Senate intelligence panels as well as the FBI are investigating Russian interference in the election and the potential for ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

As Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted: “I’m thinking Jeff Sessions is not the right person to investigate Jeff Sessions.” You are correct sir! It is time for the special counsel law to be renewed and an independent special counsel to be appointed to investigate the Trump-Putin campaign connections.

26 responses to “Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III lied under oath to the Senate about communications with the Russian ambassador

  1. Memo Restoring Use of Private Prisons Is Good News for One Company

    There is an obvious trail from Jeff Sessions to a major contractor.

    BY DAVID DAYEN | FEBRUARY 28, 2017

    http://billmoyers.com/story/memo-restoring-use-private-prisons-good-news-one-company/

  2. This whole “Russian thing” will prove to be the most egregious example of trying to turn a mole hill into a mountain that we have seen in recent political history. The democrats are desperately praying (figuratively, of course) that something, ANYTHING, comes of it so they can be outraged and maybe, just maybe, get Trump.

    I suspect that throughout Trump’s time in office there will be a never ending effort by democrats to throw things against the wall in the hopes something will stick. It is sort of amusing since the GOP has an ace up it’s collective sleeve because if the democrats are successful and they impeach and remove Trump from office (a dubious prospect, at best), Pence is waiting in the wings ready to take over; and Pence poses an even greater threat to the left because he is a real conservative who knows how to play the game. It is a win-win for the right.

    I still think that “crisis fatigue” is going to set in with most Americans as they get tired of the never ending democrat assaults on the White House. Oh, I know the true believers will never get tired of it, but most Americans have limited patience with politics and the democrats can’t see it in their zeal to destroy Trump.

    Oh well, interesting times these are…

    • As usual, Steve, you would be 100 percent correct if everyone in this entire nation thought like you do.

      But, the fact is, they do not.

      • “As usual, Steve, you would be 100 percent correct if everyone in this entire nation thought like you do. / But, the fact is, they do not.”

        Sadly, Liza, that is so true. I estimate it is only about 50% that are enlightened. That is why I am so willing to share my insights…I have 50% of the Country to convert. ;o)

    • And this is, in any way, different than the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, or the Birther movement against Obama, or the dozen Congressional inquiries into Benghazi against Sec. Clinton?

      I mean, maybe this is making a mountain out of a molehill, but the GOP proved that it’s smart politics.

      • “…maybe this is making a mountain out of a molehill, but the GOP proved that it’s smart politics.”

        Indeed. And it is the sum of the molehills that matters.

        The right wing failed miserably during the scandal free Obama years despite their best efforts. The Birther Movement, of course, was a despicable, racist lie that appealed mostly to low life white trash. Yet it proved that there is no floor that the right wing cannot sink below.

        Democrats and progressives are smarter. They will build their mountain from a continuous flow of verifiable evidence.

        • For Sure Not Tom

          Donald J. Trump was the King of the Birthers, and the 100% racist Birther issue was the original fake news.

          I feel bad for conservatives, irony, and in this case on an epic scale, is beyond their understanding.

          • “I feel bad for conservatives, irony, and in this case on an epic scale, is beyond their understanding.”

            Tom, you are always making these sweeping assertions about conservatives with such authority, and you are rarely even close to correct. In this case you are particularly wrong. Conservatives DO understand the Russian Issue and they keep it in proportion to what it represents. It is liberals who are foaming at the mouth and trying desperately to make something out of nothing. So if anyone is having problems grasping the scale of this problem, it is liberals who are feverishly trying to make something out of nothing.

        • “Democrats and progressives are smarter. They will build their mountain from a continuous flow of verifiable evidence.”

          Liza, this is one of the things that makes you a treasure! You have such a confident optimism that it can’t help but inspire hope in others. Unfortunately, I fear your democrats are going to let you down in the arena of “verifiable evidence”. Just as the GOP found, anger and emotions do not convert into good evidence regardless of what one thinks, the democrats are going to find that wishful thinking won’t get you where you want to go.

      • “And [is this], in any way, different than the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, or the Birther movement against Obama, or the dozen Congressional inquiries into Benghazi against Sec. Clinton?”

        Good point, Edward! I don’t think there is any difference at all.

        ” I mean, maybe this is making a mountain out of a molehill, but the GOP proved that it’s smart politics.”

        Well, the impeachment proceedings gained traction, but the birther movement and the Benghazi inquiries went nowhere and were wastes of time and money. But they were entertaining…

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Really? Dems are throwing everything at the wall housing something will stick. Let’s look back….

      November 8, 2010 – “I want seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks,”

      – Republican Darrell Issa, an actual convicted criminal, kicking off years of non-stop hearings – hoping something would stick.

      Kettle, meet pot. Conservatives pretend their droppings smell like fresh strawberries, but they stink plenty.

      Pence is next in line, good for you, he’s is a lying sack, just like the rest of them, he was using his private AOL (ha ha!) email account for government business including security discussions and he was hacked.

      This is where you, as a non hypocritical man, begin chanting “Lock him up!”

      Trey Goudy had his private email listed on his business card while he was investigating Clinton. Hypocrites all.

      Your boy Pence was unpopular and was not going to be re-elected. His fascination with homosexuals cost his state millions. He’s a creep.

      You are very much mistaken about something else, there will be no crisis fatigue, we are watching a reality TV show actor portray a reality TV show President. Trump lives for ratings, he won’t let us get bored.

      The scandals will never end, and since Trump is the leader of your party, you own this.

      • “Republican Darrell Issa, an actual convicted criminal, kicking off years of non-stop hearings – hoping something would stick.”

        Did anything stick? No, nothing did. Was anyone persuaded to change their opinion? No, I don’t think so. Did the American people get tired of hearing about it? You bet they did. What is it you say? Thank you for proving my point!

        ” Your boy Pence was unpopular and was not going to be re-elected. He’s a creep.

        He will also be the President if Trump is impeached. That is not an opinion or speculation, Tom. That is just a fact.

        ”…there will be no crisis fatigue…

        What you mean is that you hope there will be no crisis fatigue. Try stepping outside of your comfort zone, my friend, and you will see that most Americans find politics boring and intrusive on their lives. I believe crisis fatigue is almost inevitable. Especially at the pace democrats are going.

        ” The scandals will never end, and since Trump is the leader of your party, you own this.

        Yes, the GOP does own Trump, for good or bad. You keep saying that, Tom, as if it is some sort of curse. All it really is, though, is a statement of simple fact

  3. Senator Blumenthal on the PBS Newshour last night speaking about Sessions. This is in response to Sessions’ explanation for his answer regarding his Russian contacts during the 2016 campaign:

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the attorney general’s defense that he was answering the question that he was asked and nothing more?

    SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: Looking at the record, he was asked that question not just once, but several times during his testimony. He was asked that question not just once, but several times in writing.

    And to say that he may have misunderstood the question, when, in fact, everybody knows he had to have been prepped for that question, it was an obvious and challenging question that had to be briefed to him, and he had to go through that preparation.

    And remember also Jeff Sessions is a prosecutor, as I was United States attorney for Connecticut, the chief federal prosecutor, state attorney general of Connecticut. We know the importance of every word under oath. And so I find that explanation inadequate.

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/blumenthal-sessions-needs-give-credible-explanation-resign/

    • So Jeff Sessions misunderstood the “question” multiple times and in writing. That’s a lot of misunderstanding for an AG.

  4. From Twitter. This sums it up quite well:

    Kevin Alexander Gray‏
    @KevinAGray

    The only difference between Jefferson Beauregard Sessions & a cross burning Ku Kluxer is attire.

  5. NEWS FEB 28 2017, 1:52 PM ET
    AG Sessions Says DOJ to ‘Pull Back’ on Police Department Civil Rights Suits
    by PETE WILLIAMS

    Donald Trump’s attorney general said Tuesday the Justice Department will limit its use of a tactic employed aggressively under President Obama — suing police departments for violating the civil rights of minorities.

    “We need, so far as we can, to help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness. And I’m afraid we’ve done some of that,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    “So we’re going to try to pull back on this,” he told a meeting of the nation’s state attorneys general in Washington.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ag-sessions-says-trump-administration-pull-back-police-department-civil-n726826

    • Sessions will decimate the DOJ Civil Rights Division. The next AG under a Democratic president will have to re-build just as Eric Holder had to do.

      How many steps can we go backwards before we are actually reversing our direction?

      That’s my question.

      We can’t afford to lose the DOJ in the defense of our civil rights.

  6. The Obama White House Quietly Left Trail Of Russia Intel So Trump Couldn’t Destroy It

    By Sean Colarossi on Wed, Mar 1st, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Officials in the Obama administration preserved intelligence related to Russia’s connections to the Trump campaign.

    http://www.politicususa.com/2017/03/01/obama-white-house-quietly-left-trail-russia-intel-trump-destroy.html

  7.  Jeff Sessions Is a Disgrace to the Justice Department

    He didn’t just lie about Russia—he’s put the Trump administration on the wrong side of every major issue.
    By Ari BermanTwitterTODAY 11:09 AM
    
    “But the problem with Sessions goes well beyond Russia. He’s put the Trump administration on the wrong side of every major issue when it comes to civil rights, the Constitution, and the rule of law.

    Before Sessions was even confirmed, he “lobbied for a ‘shock-and-awe’ period of executive action,” according to The Washington Post, which included the Trump administration’s disastrous Muslim ban.

    In less than a month on the job, he’s reversed the Obama administration’s positions on voter-ID laws, private prisons, transgender rights, police abuse, and marijuana legalization.

    On Tuesday, he had the gall to give a speech on Black History Month at the Department of Justice, where he praised the Voting Rights Act on the same day the Justice Department argued in federal court that Texas’s voter-ID law did not intentionally discriminate against black and Latino voters.”

    https://www.thenation.com/article/jeff-sessions-is-a-disgrace-to-the-justice-department/

  8. Jeff Sessions’ Coming War on Legal Marijuana

    There’s little to stop the attorney general nominee from ignoring the will of millions of pro-pot voters.

    By JAMES HIGDON December 05, 2016

    As a U.S. Attorney in Alabama in the 1980s, Sessions said he thought the KKK “were OK until I found out they smoked pot.” In April, he said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and that it was a “very real danger” that is “not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.”

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/12/jeff-sessions-coming-war-on-legal-marijuana-214501

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Sessions will be using the war on drugs for its intended purpose, to suppress the opposition.

      Very Nixonian of him.

  9. About Jeff Sessions:

    Read Coretta Scott King’s Letter That Got Sen. Elizabeth Warren Silenced
    February 8, 201710:37 AM ET
    BILL CHAPPELL

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/08/514085145/read-coretta-scott-kings-letter-that-got-sen-elizabeth-warren-silenced

  10. John Huppenthal

    Keep screaming, maybe someone is listening, maybe someone is reading.

    You are blaming the Russians because Podesta was such a moron that he made his email a public record?

    You are blaming the Russians because it turned out that Podesta was a bigot?

    You’re blaming the Russians because Hillary was a million short on the corruption scale of the century?

    • not all of your enemies or caught up in the russian hysteria pornography 9 appealing to democrats pruient interests) herr huppenthal. most of the commentors here are good government liberals who are afraid to take risks and act like you punching bag. ;but not all. I have discussed actions here to counter attack you fascists

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Go read the news, sockpuppetmaster, Pence was using a private AOL account for his email, doing government business, including discussing security, and his email was hacked.

      I agree with you, people who let their email get hacked are morons.

      Stupid Pence.

      Have your boy Don the Con release his tax returns as he promised over and over and the Russia issue dries up.

      Why won’t he do what he promised?