Jeff Sessions: Don't Call Me a Liar

But attorney general clarifies that he now remembers meeting at which Russia was raised
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2017 11:55 AM CST
Jeff Sessions: I Never Lied About Russia
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before a House panel Tuesday, with Democrats grilling him on Russia's role in the campaign and Republicans pressing him to go after Hillary Clinton. The Russian angle has been a thorn for Sessions because he previously testified under oath that he knew of no contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, but that has since been called into question, most recently by former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. The latter told Bob Mueller that he once boasted at a meeting attended by Sessions and President Trump of his Russian contacts and offered to arrange a Trump meeting with Vladimir Putin. Sessions clarified on that point and others:

  • That meeting: "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 at that meeting," Sessions said, adding that news reports jogged his memory. He said that while the details are hazy, he "pushed back" on Papadopoulos' offer to set up a meeting, reports the Washington Post.
  • Never lied: Sessions adamantly rejected the notion that he's been untruthful at any point in his various testimonies. "I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection," he said, per CNN. "I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie."

  • Clinton: The judiciary panel's GOP chairman, Bob Goodlatte, sounded dissatisfied with Sessions' lack of determination to investigate claims against Clinton, reports the Hill. Specifically, he cited Republicans' request that Sessions name a special counsel to investigate the Justice Department's inquiry into Clinton's email server. On Monday, Sessions said he's looking into the possibility of a Clinton special investigation, but on Tuesday, he sounded pessimistic. "'Looks like' is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel," he said, per Politico. (The Hill has more on a relatively testy exchange with GOP Rep. Jim Jordan.)
  • Carter Page: Another adviser, Carter Page, has testified that he told Sessions during the campaign about a July 2016 trip of his to Russia, during which he met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, but Sessions said Tuesday he has "no memory" of any such conversation, reports Fox News.
  • In other words: In a snarky take on Sessions' comments, the New York Times observes, "To sum up: Mr. Sessions said he could not remember much about Russian influence on the Trump campaign, except when he could block such influence."
  • Daily 'chaos': Elaborating on why he didn't recall such details, Sessions spoke of the unique nature of the Trump campaign. "All of you have been in a campaign, but most of you have not participated in a presidential campaign," he said. "And none of you had a part in the Trump campaign. It was a brilliant campaign in many ways. But it was a form of chaos every day from day one."
  • On Trump: "I have not been improperly influenced and would not be improperly influenced" by Trump, Sessions said, per Politico. The president has been publicly pushing for the Justice Department to investigate various issues related to Clinton, but Sessions says those statements haven't swayed him.
  • Roy Moore accusers: Session said he had "no reason to doubt" the women coming forward to accuse Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual improprieties. But he declined to say whether he thought Moore, who is running to fill Sessions' vacated seat, should withdraw from the race, reports the AP.
(More Jeff Sessions stories.)

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