Attorney General had “discussions” with Russian ambassador during campaign
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Attorney General Jeff Sessions responding Wednesday night to claims that he failed to disclose discussions he had with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign.
The Washington Post reports that Sessions had two discussions with Sergey Kislyak in July and September of last year, information that contradicts a statement he made while under oath at his Senate Confirmation hearing on January 10 of this year.
When asked by Minnesota Senator Al Franken what he would do were it revealed that members of the Trump team had been in contact with Russia during the campaign, Sessions responded that he was “not aware of any of those activities,” and that he “did not have communications with the Russians.”
This, not a month after National Security Adviser was resigned his post after it came to light he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his own contact with Kislyak during the campaign.
It was, in part, that information that prompted a Department of Justice Investigation into any ties to Russia- overseen by the Attorney General.
During the time in which he had these discussions, Sessions was still a senator- but he was also closely involved in the Trump campaign, and had been since February 2016.
In a statement issued Wednesday night, the Attorney General said:
“I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores echoed his statement, saying Session’s response to Senator Franken’s question was not misleading, and that his meetings with Ambassador Kislyak were two of more than 25 he had with foreign ambassadors, held in his capacity as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee.
According to The Washington Post, of the 26 members on that committee, 20 say they did not meet with Kislyak last year. The other six have not yet commented.
Sergey Kislyak is a diplomat, not necessarily an intelligence operative, and it’s unknown what ties, if any, he has to Russian involvement in the 2016 election.
As far as perjury allegations, Senator Jeff Sessions was not directly asked if he, himself, had been in contact with Russia.
But, it begs a question: If Sessions met with Kislyak in a non-campaign related capacity- why state the opposite?
Senator Franken release a statement saying that Session’s comment during the hearing was “at best, misleading,” and called on the Attorney General to recuse himself from the investigation.
Several Democratic lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have called on Sessions to resign.
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