I haven’t really given the issue surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his interactions with the Russian Ambassador and the subsequent revelations and recusal the attention that it is due.
Benghazi Benghazi, I mean Wiretaps, Wiretaps, Trump Tower…
This has spent so much time in the news prior to Saturday’s Twitter storm that I am going to shoot from the hip on most of this because I don’t want to wade through the two dozen links that I have amassed already. So here goes:
Apparently while acting as a policy advisor to the Trump campaign, Senator Jeff Sessions had two meetings with the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. This on its face isn’t totally unusual for a US Senator to meet with foreign leaders or ambassadors in the course of their job as an elected official. One of the meetings was in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention and the other in his Senate office in Washington. Normally there wouldn’t be an issue with a sitting US Senator meeting with a foreign dignitary in the due course of his job in Washington. But it does look a bit unusual when those meetings occur while you are a policy advisor and surrogate in a presidential campaign.
AG Sessions denies that they talked about the campaign. But that seems a little odd considering the first meeting was at the RNC…and what the hell was the Russian ambassador even doing at the RNC? Even if nothing untoward was discussed, a US Senator in full out campaign mode has got to realize that this looks pretty questionable from either a moral or ethical standpoint…so he either lacks morals or ethics or worse yet, the political savvy to conduct himself above board. Or even worse, is too stupid to understand what he’s doing. Though he obviously never intended to get caught.
But this is all compounded by his bewildering answer to Senator Al Franken’s question about how he would handle an investigation into allegations between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. I am going to quote it here but my first note is, he didn’t actually answer the question and then stepped in it and provided information that certainly goaded the press to look into the issue at a different level. Essentially pointing a guilty finger at himself:
FRANKEN: Okay. CNN has just published a story, and I’m telling you this about a news story that’s just been published. I’m not expecting you to know whether or not it’s true or not. But 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.”
Now, 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 didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.
So at this point in an effort to deflect, instead of actually answering a fairly simple question that he should have easily answered, he takes another road entirely, and soils himself. And after that the news comes out that he did in fact have the two meetings that I described above. Now he could have gone back and ‘corrected’ his testimony at any time after he had given it. But until the news hit he made no effort to do so. He clearly perjured himself. Clearly. The top law man in the land…lied under oath.
Sarah Isgur Flores, Session’s spokeswoman, explained in a separate statement to The Post on Wednesday night: “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.”
That’s not really true.
Sessions was clearly asked whether there was anyone “affiliated with the Trump campaign” who communicated with the Russian government during the campaign. Sessions admitted that he fit this definition of being affiliated with the campaign — as a surrogate (and, really, a top adviser as well) — and said he “did not have communications with the Russians.”
It would be a huge stretch of the imagination to think that Senator Sessions was acting as a member of the Armed Services Committee while meeting a foreign ambassador at the Republican National Convention. Now back to the issue of his original reply to Senator Franken. Any cabinet member but particularly a high profile cabinet position like Attorney General requires a certain precision in speech to avoid misconceptions or miscommunications just as we have witnessed here. Not only has he perjured himself but he’s not even qualified to be the AG.
As a result of the resultant hot water, AG Sessions didn’t resign as many of us expected, but took an easier out and stated that he would recuse himself on any investigations into the issue of Russian interactions with the Trump campaign. And he did that very publicly without apparently informing the president directly and maybe not even the White House. The result reportedly infuriated the president and may have resulted in his leaving his top advisors, Steven Bannon and Reince Priebus in Washington over the weekend, while he went to Mar-a-lago again. And it may have been the direct cause of the president’s wiretapping Twitter storm on Saturday morning. A ludicrous accusation that has dominated the news cycle since then…taking the Russian issue and the Sessions disaster totally out of the media. So again he hasn’t the sensibility one would expect out of an AG and has put the Trump regime in a bind.
And today AG Sessions made a half hearted attempt to set the record straight:
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) had asked him about a “continuing exchange of information during the campaign” between Trump aides and Russian officials. Sessions replied that he was “not aware of any of those activities,” adding that he “did not have communications with the Russians.”
“My answer was correct,” Sessions wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “…I was surprised by the allegations in the question, which I had not heard before. I answered the question, which asked about a ‘continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government,’ honestly.”
“I did not mention communications I had with the Russian Ambassador over the years because the question did not ask about him,” Sessions continued.
He reiterated that he had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice — once during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland after a speech he gave, the other in September in the presence of members of his staff. He said he “[does] not recall” any discussions about the presidential race with Kislyak or other Russian officials.
So once again, while correcting the record of his confirmation hearing testimony, he denies that he answered wrong. That would be his qualification for being part of the Trump cabinet…just keep denying any and every issue or point over there>
But then he doesn’t recall what he actually talked with the ambassador about. Really? You are meeting with the top representative of a foreign government…one most often viewed as an antagonistic power…whether in your official capacity as a US Senator or appointed capacity as a campaign policy advisor…and you can’t remember what you talked about?
Now I don’t much care about the amount of mud he’s slung onto the Trump White House, but for the good of the United States and We the People…and the integrity of the office of Attorney General and the Department of Justice…Attorney General Jeff Sessions needs to resign…yesterday!