Attorney General Sessions And Perjury Most Foul — How Deep Does the Russian Rabbit Hole Go?
A trail of lies from General Michael Flynn regarding his contacts with Russians prior to Trump becoming President eventually led to his resignation. Even in resignation General Flynn did not come clean. Equally disturbing are White House efforts to conceal an attempt by White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to influence the FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign connections with Russia involving Russian efforts to influence the election.
Now we discover that United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and 7th in line of succession to the Presidency, perjured himself to Congress on the issue. Like Flynn, he is trying to dance his way around the lie, but he lied.
On January 10, 2017 Sessions testified under oath in the first day of his Senate confirmation hearings. Senator Franken questioned Sessions regarding emerging news reports of connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials prior to the election. In context, Franken first mentioned stories of Trump campaign surrogates having regular conversations with the Russians and asked Sessions if he had any thoughts on why Trump had been so reluctant to acknowledge the existence of Russian hacking. Sessions responded that he believed the FBI’s conclusions regarding Russia’s role in the hacking but said he could not comment on why Trump was reluctant to acknowledge it. Franken pressed some more and that is when Sessions committed perjury:
Senator Franken: CNN JUST PUBLISHED A STORY ALLEGING THAT THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY PROVIDED DOCUMENTS TO THE PRESIDENT-ELECT LAST WEEK, THAT INCLUDED INFORMATION THAT QUOTE, “RUSSIAN OPERATIVES CLAIMED TO HAVE COMPROMISING PERSONAL AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION ABOUT MR. TRUMP.” THESE DOCUMENTS ALSO ALLEGEDLY SAY QUOTE, “THERE WAS A CONTINUING EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION DURING THE CAMPAIGN BETWEEN TRUMP’S SURROGATES AND INTERMEDIARIES FOR THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT.” AGAIN, I’M TELLING YOU THIS AS IT’S COMING OUT, SO YOU KNOW. BUT IF IT’S TRUE, IT’S OBVIOUSLY EXTREMELY SERIOUS AND IF THERE IS ANY EVIDENCE THAT ANYONE AFFILIATED WITH THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATED WITH THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT IN THE COURSE OF THIS CAMPAIGN, WHAT WILL YOU DO?
Sessions: SENATOR FRANKEN, I’M NOT AWARE OF ANY OF THOSE ACTIVITIES. I HAVE BEEN CALLED A SURROGATE AT A TIME OR TWO IN THAT CAMPAIGN AND I DID NOT HAVE COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE RUSSIANS, AND I’M UNABLE TO COMMENT ON IT.
You can view the seminal portion of the exchange for yourself:
Sessions’ assertion that he “did not have communications with the Russians” was false. Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice. The more explainable of the meetings was in Sessions’ Senate Office where it may have been for legitimate Senate purposes relating to Sessions’ role on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Of course, another interpretation is that Sessions used that role as a cover for a meeting relating to the Trump campaign.
In any event, the other meeting between Sessions and Kislyak was at the Republican National Convention in July. At the time Sessions had long been an ally of Trump and was one of his key surrogates. A meeting with the Russian ambassador, and suspected key Russian spy, at the Republican National Convention cannot be reconciled with Sessions’ testimony at his confirmation hearing and his subsequent claims that any conversations he had with Kislyak were in his capacity as Senator.
The bottom line is that Sessions said he no communications, period. He provided no exceptions. He did not say “no communications except with a Russian ambassador in my capacity as Senator.” Even if he had said that, it would not be consistent with the circumstances of meeting with the Russian ambassador/spy at the Republican National Convention. It’s also notable that Sessions made the above comments on the first of two days of testimony. He could have clarified what he meant the next day, but he did not.
If the name Sergey Kislyak sounds familiar, there is good reason it should. Kislyak is precisely the same person that General Flynn lied about not having contacts with, contacts whose timing suspiciously suggest Flynn violated the Logan Act. So we now have two long time Trump supporters, appointed to high positions in his administration, caught in flat out lying regarding their potentially inappropriate contacts with the same Russian ambassador/spy. We also know President Trump knew about Flynn’s lies, and risk the Russians could blackmail him about it, for a month before Trump acted by finally asking Flynn to resign.
The tragic beauty of this is, in most circumstances Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be responsible for investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with Russians, an investigation whose scope now absolutely must include himself. Even Republicans are demanding that he recuse himself and that an independent investigator be appointed. Some Democrats are going further and suggesting Sessions should resign. I agree. He has been caught perjuring himself to the Senate. A Senate whose vetting of him, in the Constitutionally mandated advise and consent process, was subverted because as a Senator he was afforded privileges against harsh allegations not afforded other nominees.
In the meantime, the smoke from “Russia-gate” gets thicker and hotter with each passing day. A full no holds barred independent investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible connection to Russian interference in our election is a necessity for the sanctity of our democracy. Trump’s refusal to disclose his taxes also becomes more suspicious by the day. Congress should act to ensure the independent investigator can have that information.