Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russia

The Washington Post was the first to report that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not truthful in his answers to questions about his contacts with Russian government officials during the presidential campaign last fall. Basically, during his confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked how he would handle revelations that anyone in the Trump campaign had had contact with the Russian government during the election, to which Sessions point blank replied “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.”

Well, it appears clear that this is not true. There are a number of reasonable explanations why Sessions might have had to meet with the Russian ambassador, given that he sat on the Armed Services Committee, but if there was nothing nefarious about the meetings, why lie about them taking place at all? It’s a very strange thing to do on Sessions part, and usually the first thing people assume is that you’re guilty of something if you’re not forthcoming with information that ought to be innocuous. There’s another piece of evidence the Post includes, an email Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) sent to Sessions, asking if he had been in contact with anyone from the Russian government to discuss the presidential campaign, a question to which Sessions replied “No.” This is a very different question than what he was asked during his hearing (and this would not qualify as some form of perjury), and so in my mind isn’t as relevant to what happened in the committee hearing (because it is possible he had contact with the Russian government not to discuss the election, but to discuss something else).

At the very least it’s clear that if an investigation is launched into the Trump administrations Russia ties, Sessions should have to recuse himself from the oversight process of that investigation, given that he apparently thought enough of his meetings with the Russians to potentially perjure himself over them (despite the fact that, again, there could be totally innocuous and reasonable explanations for why Sessions met with this Russian envoy). There ought to be an independent investigation launched to look into these ties, and I’m on record saying I think Colin Powell would be a fine person to lead such an effort.

This shouldn’t be a partisan thing, but God knows it will become one, though I will ask my more staunchly Republican readers to imagine what it would be like if these revelations had come out about Eric Holder. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would have held a joint press conference within 15 minutes of the report from the Post calling for an investigation or for Holder’s immediate resignation. The tables are now turned, obviously, but that doesn’t mean there’s any less reason to hold the government accountable and ensure that they are acting in the best interest of the American people.


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