Patterico's Pontifications

3/1/2017

Sessions Meetings with Russians Appear to Contradict His Claims at His Confirmation Hearings — Or Do They?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:01 pm

The Washington Post is reporting tonight:

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.

At first blush it might look like Sessions told a falsehood told under oath, but I don’t think so. Here’s the video of Sessions answering a question from Al Franken:

FRANKEN: 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’ve 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.

I have bolded the qualification by Franken, which will be the basis of Sessions’s defense, and Sessions’s rather carelessly unqualified remark, which will be the basis of Democrats’ attack.

Democrats who are flipping out (Pelosi, Elizabeth Pocahantas Warren, and that annoying gumflapper Elijah Cummings have called on Sessions to resign) will concentrate on the second bolded part — Sessions’s claim that “I did not have communications with the Russians.” It would have been better if he had added “as a member of the Trump campaign” or something like that.

But Sessions’s defense will concentrate on the first bolded part above — the part of Franken’s question that says he is focused on statements that are “in the course of this campaign.” Statements by Sessions and his spokesperson can be found at BuzzFeed:

A spokeswoman for Sessions told BuzzFeed News that he met with the Russian ambassador in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — not as a representative of the Trump campaign. Sessions did not mislead members of Congress, she said.

“There was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer,” spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said. “Last year, the Senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian, German and Russian ambassadors. 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.”

Sessions also personally responded in a statement.

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

My preliminary impression: much ado about nothing. Sessions’s defense wins the day.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Not All Gold Star Family Members Equal: Democrats Assume Widow Of U.S. Navy Seal “Exploited” By Trump, Didn’t Assume Khizr Khan Exploited By Hillary

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:01 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last night, during President Trump’s speech before Congress, he took a moment to introduce Carryn Owens, the widow of recently slain U.S. Navy SEAL Senior Chief William ‘Ryan’ Owens. It was a truly heartbreaking moment. Mrs. Owens’ raw grief and immense pain could not be contained, and came tumbling out in one huge cathartic wave bursting forth as the chamber gave a two-minute standing ovation in honor of her husband. Like many others, all I could do was pray and hope that God would overwhelm her with the outpouring of love and compassion from those in the chamber, and from those of us watching on TV. Right then, right there.

Sadly, of course, it didn’t take long at all for the *horrible people that walk among us to accuse a Navy SEAL widow of being little more than a pawn who let herself be exploited by President Trump:

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Because here’s the thing: If one believes that President Trump exploited Mrs. Owens, one would also have to believe that Mrs. Owens willingly allowed herself be used by him. Is that a message accusers want to go with? Democratic accusers. Do they really think America at large believes that Mrs. Owens, a grieving widow, saw this as anything other than something pure, something noble, and something strong, and something eloquently simple: to publicly honor her husband’s memory, to point to his life led in the service of others, and to have his name etched forever in the collective mind of the American people.

And, as it always goes with the left, if these people are going to accuse President Trump of exploiting Mrs. Owens and her granting him permission to do so, then they must also believe that Hillary Clinton exploited Gold Star family member Khizr Khan, and that he too willingly rolled over and allowed himself to be used by her for political gain. Nothing more, nothing less. Funny, though, I never read one word, let alone one accusation from the left that made this connection.

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By the way, Dan Grilo, who identified himself as a Clinton campaign volunteer, and called Carryn Owens an “idiot” in the tweet above, was fired from his job today.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Andrew Breitbart: A Sad Anniversary

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:53 pm

It’s been five years since Andrew Breitbart died. Thanks to Colonel Haiku for the (sad) reminder. I think he would have enjoyed the politics of today, and I would have enjoyed seeing what he had to say about it.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Miguel Estrada’s Hilarious Statement on Rumors He Might Be the Next Solicitor General

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:00 pm

The National Law Journal reports:

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Miguel Estrada on Wednesday knocked down suggestions that he was in the running to be the next U.S. solicitor general, citing “the deterioration of the confirmation process over the years.”

In a statement emailed to The National Law Journal, Estrada said, “I would never accept a job that requires Senate confirmation or, for that matter, willingly place myself in any situation (e.g., a hearing room) in which convention requires that I be civil to Chuck Schumer.”

Hahahahahahaha.

Estrada has good reason to be bitter. Nominated by George W. Bush in 2002 to be a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals, he was a victim of Democrats who mounted a filibuster because they worried that the position would set him up to be a shoo-in as the first Latino Supreme Court justice. He finally gave up and became a partner at a top law firm, and nobody can blame him.

It’s good to see that he has a sense of humor about the current rumors that he would subject himself to Senate Democrats again.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Trump Acts as an Anonymous Source After Complaining About Anonymous Sources

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 am

At his CPAC speech, Donald Trump made an excellent point about the media’s overuse of anonymous sources:

I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out. “A source says that Donald Trump is a horrible, horrible human being.” Let ’em say it to my face. Let there be no more “sources.”

And he was right about that. How many times has Big Media cited a “source” for an anti-Trump story, only to have the story blow up in their face? Yet they continue to do it.

Which makes it extra strange that Donald Trump himself was an anonymous source yesterday:

Donald Trump on Friday railed against the media’s use of anonymous sources in stories. Four days later, he was one.

In a private meeting with national news anchors ahead of his address to Congress Tuesday night, Trump went on background with reporters as a “senior administration official” to discuss issues like immigration, telling attendees that it was time for a legislative compromise from both parties.

“There’s got to be a coming together,” an “official” said, according to CNN. As BuzzFeed News reported, citing attendees at the meeting, Trump was the one to make that remark, among others attributed to the official.

Reporters were allowed to put some of Trump’s comments back on the record at 6 p.m., according to a person familiar with the terms of the meeting. CNN later updated its story, for instance, with a quote from Trump. “The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” he said.

Of course, the story that Trump was an anonymous source is based on . . . an anonymous source. So we have to keep our skeptical hats on as we analyze it. However, it easily checks out.

Tongues started to wag after stories like this article from CNN quoted an anonymous “senior administration official” as seeming to favor an amnesty-style program:

But the official said Trump does not see the bill as something that would necessarily upset Trump’s base, stressing that there would need to be “a softening on both sides.”

“It has to be a negotiation,” the official said, arguing that the bill theoretically could make people on both the “far right” and “far left” happy — and it’s a negotiation the President believes he could successfully broker, the official said.

The President believes that the nation is now in a position where it can pass immigration legislation after decades of failed efforts, and he believes the country is “exhausted.”
“There’s got to be a coming together,” the official said.

Allahpundit noted yesterday that the language sounded . . . very Trumpy:

You don’t often hear “softening” used as a noun but that’s exactly the word Trump famously chose last August when he described his (tentative, fleeting) evolution on immigration to Sean Hannity: “There could certainly be a softening because we’re not looking to hurt people.” “A softening” is the term he reaches for when he wants to describe his willingness to compromise on amnesty. (The gratuitous emphasis on negotiation in the excerpt is also highly Trump-y, needless to say.)

Allahpundit also noted that the story followed hard on the heels of a meeting that news anchors had with Trump. Allahpundit’s conclusion: “the ‘senior official’ Blitzer spoke to is almost certainly Trump himself.”

BuzzFeed’s story simply confirms what everybody already knew.

The very notion of Trump going on background is more than vaguely ridiculous, given that he sounds like nobody else on Earth. I can easily imagine a story that reads like this:

A senior administration official said only Trump can fix the immigration crisis. According to the senior official: “We have to make a great deal. Big league. Nobody knows more about immigration than Donald Trump!” The senior official added: “We have to Make America Great Again, that I can tell you.”

Trump calling for an end to anonymous sources, and then acting as an anonymous source himself, is of course rank hypocrisy. When Obama engaged in hypocrisy — and he did — we called him out. Some conservatives will call out Trump for this. But others will resort to the partisan playbook that unprincipled hacks use to deal with stories they don’t like.

Which path you take is your choice.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


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