Sessions Says He Forgot About Russia Meeting But Didn’t Lie

Sessions Says He Forgot About Russia Meeting But Didn’t Lie

Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied he lied or misled Congress about contacts with Russia by people involved in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, saying he simply forgot about a meeting that’s emerged in the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied,” Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. “I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection.”

Democrats have questioned the attorney general’s credibility ever since he said in sworn testimony at his Senate confirmation hearing in January that he “wasn’t aware” that anyone in Trump’s campaign made contact with Russians. Their criticism deepened after Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the campaign, filed court documents last month about a meeting Sessions attended in March 2016.

At the meeting, George Papadopoulos, an unpaid adviser, boasted of his Russian connections and said he could help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

AG Sessions testifies about charges that he lied to or misled Congress about Russia and Trump campaign contacts.

(Source: Bloomberg)

“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said during that meeting,” Sessions said. “After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter.”

Sessions said he doesn’t recall having any further discussions about contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives after that, including a discussion that Carter Page, another Trump foreign policy adviser, has said he had with him.

Democrats’ Doubts

Democrats made clear they doubted Sessions’ changing recollections.

“In the past month, we have also learned that the attorney general must have been very much aware of a continuing exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Russian government,” said Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the committee’s top Democrat. “Under oath, knowing in advance that he would be asked about this subject, the attorney general gave answers that were, at best, incomplete.”

Republicans sought to change the topic, pressing Sessions to name another special counsel — this one to look into a litany of questions more favorable to Trump, who has dismissed the Russia inquiry as a “Democratic hit job” and said in a tweet that James Comey, the FBI director he fired, “lied and leaked and totally protected Hillary Clinton.”

In response to requests from committee Republicans, Sessions said, “I have directed senior federal prosecutors to make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a special counsel.”

Republican Demand

Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio wasn’t satisfied.

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