Patterico's Pontifications


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.]

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

  1. Boy there is a lot of flipping out though.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. Of course this is old Plame play against Ashcroft dialed to eleventy.

    narciso (3a4429)

  3. I really get the idea Big Media is super excited about this but I am no Trump partisan and my reaction is: meh. Be more careful how you word your answers next time. Now get back in there!

    Patterico (31088f)

  4. As Thomas Foley said re the October surprise, it’s not the nature of the evidence, it’s the seriousness of the charge’

    narciso (3a4429)

  5. Interesting that nobody else on the Armed Services Committee has said they met with Kislyak last year.

    Trump’s buddies do like to talk to Russians, it seems.

    Patterico (31088f)

  6. I get the feeling that the meeting was documented at the time as Senate business and the meeting involved many ambassadors.

    AZ Bob (f7a491)

  7. All Trump really needs to say is: “Hey, the 1980s want their foreign policy issues with the Russians back. Or do I need to get a ‘reset button’?” My guess is the press will not remember who said those things first. Not now.

    Such amnesia all over the place. Why, I saw someone on Twitter snarking at Trump for using a Teleprompter to give a good speech.

    I don’t like Trump at all. But all the nonsense from the Left just makes people support him more. You would think they would catch on.

    Simon Jester (d3af62)

  8. “Watch what we do, not what we say.” – John N. Mitchell, Nixon US Attorney General and convicted/imprisoned Watergate crook.

    “Goddam-it, when is somebody going to go on the record in this story? You guys are about to write a story that says the former Attorney General, the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in this country, is a crook! Just be sure you’re right.” – Ben Bradlee, Editor, Washington Post [Jason Robards] ‘All The President’s Men’ 1976

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  9. To be clear, Sessions wasn’t just a Trump surrogate. He had an official role as chair of the campaign’s national security advisory committee.

    One of the contacts was direct from his office after reports of Russian hacking:

    A spokeswoman for Sessions confirmed the contact with Kislyak, saying the attorney general spoke on the phone with the ambassador from his office in September. That conversation took place during the time when intelligence officials assert that Russia was interfering with the U.S. presidential election through a hacking and influence campaign.

    Also Sessions voted to impeach Clinton for perjury before a grand jury. He later explained:

    After failing to remove Clinton from office for lying under oath, Sessions told the Associated Press in February 1999 that he feared Clinton’s acquittal would “send the wrong message to a future generation of American leaders.”

    When President Nixon resigned in the face of impeachment in 1974, he said, the message was clear that officials “couldn’t play games with the law and the truth.”
    “I hope we haven’t sent a message that’s not as clear,” he said, “that clever people can sometimes get ahead by spinning and not telling the truth. That worries me.”

    Eve (d7dde7)

  10. I don’t even get this strange thing. Is the implication by the Democrat/nevertrumpers that Trump and his guys are working for Putin? Seriously, you have to go kill yourselves if that theory makes sense to you.

    jcurtis (a94b6f)

  11. This will end when the Trump peeps tar and feather sitting bull, stuart smalley, piglosi and the racist slob cummings.

    mg (31009b)

  12. If obama wasn’t involved how did it become declassified so fast?

    mg (31009b)

  13. lol he’s toast

    they have more than enough to do on him same as how slurpy egg mcmuffin did on milo

    and of course slurpy

    and meghan’s disgusting cowardly brainwashed p.o.s. daddy

    and princess lindsey

    they gonna help on this too

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  14. filthy old soldier-butcher george w.

    he’ll probably stick a shiv in too

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  15. Thank you for this information.

    MD in Philly (20438e)

  16. you forgot to xpost this Mr.P

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  17. You have a hankering to comment at the Jury, happyfeet?

    nk (dbc370)

  18. no i’m just a peculiarly fastidious pikachu

    everybody says so

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  19. Back in the bad old days, African hunters had what they called the Big Five trophies to hang on the wall — lion, elephant, leopard, Cape buffalo, rhino. Sessions is definitely one of the Big Five of the Trump administration in the Democrat safari’s sights. He really needs to weather this, and it would be a wonderful bonus if he trampled or mauled the bwana m’kumbas too.

    nk (dbc370)

  20. pervy nevertrump Jason Chaffetz thinks Mr. Sessions is a stinky binky what needs to recuse his unethical self because Russians

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  21. Damn, and I thought Chaffetz had turned the corner. He has to get over Southerners and westerners calling shots now.

    urbanleftbehind (66b074)

  22. Oops, I meant easterners.

    urbanleftbehind (66b074)

  23. Its a two for, first they want to get sessions to recluse for another fitzmas, second in the event he wants to prosecute Hillary, third throw shade on any initiative he might make

    narciso (d1f714)

  24. Meanwhile back at the ranch

    narciso (d1f714)

  25. You might not be totally off the wall with “pervy”. Not only was he was born in Los Gatos, California, his father’s family has a polyandrous connection with the Michael Dukakis family. He has a brother who is Dukakis’s stepson, and he worked on Dukakis’s campaign in 1988. His own mother was a Christian Scientist who converted to Mormonism. Californian, Jewish, Christian Science, Mormon, Democrat, Greek by connection — it’s got to build up scar tissue.

    nk (dbc370)

  26. Yeah, I know he’s a Utahn Mormon Republican, now.

    nk (dbc370)

  27. Well family you can’t get out of that,

    narciso (d1f714)

  28. why can’t people just be normal

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  29. As I understand it, both meetings were with groups of ambassadors. This just strengthens my conclusion this is a nothingburger.

    He can recuse though. Probably should. No big deal.

    Patterico (31088f)

  30. So they can issue another fishing expedition, seriously how often have we seen this movie, plame 2003, October surprise 1991?

    narciso (d1f714)

  31. Reliable sources say he had his feet propped up on the couch when he spoke with them….

    SpokaneBob (6797b5)

  32. 10. jcurtis (a94b6f) — 3/2/2017 @ 1:29 am

    I don’t even get this strange thing. Is the implication by the Democrat/nevertrumpers that Trump and his guys are working for Putin? Seriously, you have to go kill yourselves if that theory makes sense to you.

    They’re not tryin to flesh it out, but if anything, I suppose the implication would be that, in doing the hacking, Putin was working for Trump, and in exchange, Trump was maybe promising him control over Syria., and the weakening of NATO and some other things Putin would like.

    This is the front page story in today’s New York Daily News (the New York Post has Biden’s son going with his brother’s widow, although that’s also on the front page of the New York Daily News.

    Sammy Finkelman (8dcc71)

  33. My Congressman, Jerrold Nadler is quoted as writing:

    Sessions must at min recuse himself – not only b/c impartiality is tainted, he may be a subject of investigation!
    Of it turns out sessions lied under oath, he of course will be sbjct to criminal prosecution & shd immediately resign. #ResolutionofInquiry

    That must have been on Twitter,

    Yesterday night, at 7:06 pm Eastern Standard Time, he sent an email that went, in part:

    This is truly shocking. Just moments ago, Republicans in the House voted against requiring the Trump Administration to turn over information about investigations into his ties to Russia and business conflicts.

    We cannot allow the Republicans to hide from the truth – the security and integrity of our nation is at stake.

    Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Trey Gowdy and the other Republicans are now fully complicit in Trump’s lies, deceit and must be held accountable. Each Republican vote is another brick in the wall denying Americans the truth.

    Can you donate $5, $10 or $20 to help me spread the word about the Republicans’ dereliction of duty?

    All Americans must band together to demand that Republican Members of the Judiciary Committee do their jobs and investigate Trump’s violations of the law and our constitution. With your support we can make sure folks know that Republicans are covering-up Trump’s relationship with Russia, and his ties to Russia.

    Your support will be crucial as we continue to fight for the truth.

    Thank you – we will not give up, let up, or stop until the American public can be assured that Trump’s business conflicts & ties have been fully investigated.



    Sammy Finkelman (8dcc71)

  34. What’s interesting is the source of this information is “Justice Department officials,” per the Washington Post:

    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 would assume that given the timing of Sessions’ communications with the ambassador that the Obama Justice Department knew about this in the fall. Also fishy timing that this story was released the same day the NY Times reported that Obama officials planted clues Da Vinci Code style around the Executive agencies for Tom Hanks or someone else to find. If they had the good while Obama was still in office, they would have done something sooner.

    Joe (e38104)

  35. Obama secretly sends crates with billion$ (plus more via wire transfer, which he earlier said he couldn’t do, hence the crates) to mullahs he is also giving nuke technology….and lies about practically everything to do with the deal – msm: crickets

    Sessions meets with ambassadors – msm: four alarm fire.

    No, the press ain’t biased at all.

    harkin (afc7a6)

  36. The New York Daily News says, citing the Washington Post, that the earlier of the two meetings was in July at a Heritage Foundation event (around the time of the Republican convention) where about 50 different Ambassadors attended, and he had a one-on-one conversation with the Russian Ambassador. (Maybe this was about the Republican platform?)

    The second meeting was in his office in the Senate in September. The Washington Post contacted 20 out of the remaining 25 members of the Armed Services Committee, but none of those 20 Senators said they met with Russian ambassador last year.

    Sessions told reporters at the Justice Department yesterday:

    I would recuse myself on anything that I should recuse myself on. That’s all I can tell you.

    Sammy Finkelman (8dcc71)

  37. The Washington Post story was clearly timed to coincide with a Democratic motion to start an inquiry, not only only into the whole Russian contacts matter, but into possible Trump business interests in Russia (which are as delusionary as Cheney’s ongoing connection to Haliburton) The inclusion of Trump’s business inetersts (an alleged motivation for Trump, since getting elected president would obviously not be enough to get Trump to co-operate with Russia) was probably a poison pill designed to make sure that the resolution did not get any Republican votes.

    This was also designed to avoid giving Rep. Darrell Issa any credit, and to compete with the announcement by the House intelligence committee that it intended to open an inquiry into the allegations of communications betwene the Trump campaign and Russia (which itself was probably postponed till after Trump have his speech)

    Sammy Finkelman (8dcc71)

  38. you forgot to xpost this Mr.P


    Patterico (115b1f)

  39. I have a feeling there’s going to be a banning at the Jury. Just a hunch.

    nk (dbc370)

  40. Excerpt from Statement by Elijah Cummings, Ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee:

    It is inconceivable that even after Michael Flynn was fired for concealing his conversations with the Russians that Attorney General Sessions would keep his own conversations secret for several more weeks. Attorney General Sessions should resign immediately, and there is no longer any question that we need an independent commission to investigate this issue.

    Tweet by Adam Schiff ( who once said on Face the Nation, that Hillary Clinton would have been justly criticized had she contradicted the CIA (in September 2012) about the attack in Benghazi being spontaneous ) Ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee:

    If it’s true that Sessions failed to disclose his meeting with Kislyak, he must recuse himself. This is not even a close call, it is a must.

    Sammy Finkelman (8dcc71)

  41. Those words they are using:

    narciso (d1f714)

  42. Obama, the Democrats and the Democrat Operatives with Bylines are vermin out to work against the best interests of the US of A.

    Colonel Haiku (ea7bff)

  43. Adam Schiff can kiss my ass, teh swine.

    Colonel Haiku (ea7bff)

  44. Podesta was on the board of a sanctioned Russian bank, and now he’s a bezos contributor

    narciso (d1f714)

  45. House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi also called for Sessions to resign. (apparently the Democrats who feel a need to be taken seriously are going slower on that. Both Adam Schiff and Jerrodl Nadler avoiding an outright call for Sessions to resign. Schiff did not even flatly state that Sessions failed to disclose his meeting with Kislyak.)

    I don’t know if we have one important impartial or fair Democrat.

    Sammy Finkelman (8dcc71)

  46. Jeff Sessions looks like Bilbo Baggins after carrying the Ring for way too long.

    Leviticus (efada1)

  47. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to Politico, also called for Sessions to resign. Like I said, only Democrats who don’t care to be taken seriously (by Republicans and others) have done this (but it may be co-ordinated)

    Sammy Finkelman (8dcc71)

  48. Nobody knew that rigging a national election with Russia would be so complicated. Who knew? Nobody. Nobody knew. Believe me. That I can tell you.

    Tillman (a95660)

  49. …’nothingburger.’

    A Canadian favorite.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  50. Usual suspects crawl out from under their wet, moldy logs…

    Colonel Haiku (ea7bff)

  51. I have to wonder about the state of mental health for Democrats.

    Obama and his minions repeatedly lied to congress. Boldly. Proudly. Under oath. There are too many examples even to name.

    Loretta Lynch had secret meetings with Bill Clinton during the investigation into e-mails from his wife. She should, obviously, have recused herself from the case and been forced to resign. Did Dems demand either?

    Holder was found in contempt of congress for lying. Did a single democrat demand his job?

    Tenn (131b65)

  52. Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer can’t seem to decide if he a reasonable person, or must join he partisan chorus. He was calling for Sessions to resign today, gallantly defending that positon. He can’t do what makes sense to him, it seems. After all hes only tghe senate Democratic Leader – the highest ranking Democrat in Washington.

    Sammy Finkelman (8dcc71)

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