The Wall Street Journal has just complicated Jeff Sessions' explanation about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. The attorney general has acknowledged that he met at least twice with Sergei Kislyak during the campaign, but he says he did so in his capacity as a senator rather than as a surrogate of the Trump camp. One of those conversations occurred at an event during the Republican National Convention, and the Journal reports that Sessions paid for his travel expenses to Cleveland with money from his own re-election campaign fund—not from official legislative funds that would typically cover his trips as a member of the Senate Armed Services panel. A spokesoman for Sessions offered no comment on the convention expenses, but a general counsel at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center spells out the inconsistency.
“If he was truly there solely as a member of the Armed Services Committee, then he could've used his legislative account,” says Larry Noble. At the time of the convention, Sessions had been chairman of Trump’s National Security Advisory Committee for about four months. Sessions, meanwhile, appeared on Fox News Thursday night and told Tucker Carlson that the controversy over his meetings with Kislyak has been "hyped beyond reason." At the convention, for example, he said he spoke with about 50 ambassadors and characterized them as informal chats. Aides say they don't recall Sessions talking about the campaign with Kislyak at the event, but they also say the room was so loud they can't be positive, per the Journal. Sessions said Thursday he would recuse himself from any related investigation.