Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried and failed to explain away his false and misleading statements to Congress during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday.
Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year where he claimed he “could not recall” any discussions about Russia or any meetings with Russian officials by the Trump campaign, where Sessions was a top official. Based on the findings of special counsel Bob Mueller and Congressional investigators, we know both of those to be false statements.
George Papadopoulos, the Trump foreign policy adviser who worked directly under Sessions before he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts, admitted to investigators that he spoke with both Sessions and Trump about his attempts to set up a meeting with Russian officials.
On Tuesday, Sessions attempted to claim that there may have been conversations about Russia but not to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton, which we know to be false.
“I don’t know if these conversations have come up at some time, but not to obtain information,” Sessions said. “With regards to your broad question, I don’t recall at this moment, sitting here, any such discussions.”
When he was pressed specifically about Papadopoulos, however, Sessions suddenly remembered the meeting but only to insist he strongly discouraged the Russian contacts.
“I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports,” Sessions claimed. “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 now recalls the meeting, and blamed his memory lapse on the “chaos” of the Trump campaign.
“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. “But I did not recall this event which occurred 18 months before my testimony of a few weeks ago. And I would gladly have reported it had I remembered it, because I pushed back against his suggestion that I thought may have been improper.”
“All of you have been in a campaign,” Sessions added. “But most of you have not participated in a presidential campaign. And none of you had a part in the Trump campaign. It was a brilliant campaign, I think, in many ways, but it was a form of chaos every day from day one. We traveled sometimes to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply, and I was still a full time senator with a very full schedule.”
Even if we were to give Sessions the benefit of the doubt, his false and misleading statements to Congress are part of a larger Trump administration trend of lying about everything having to do with Russia.
As GOP strategist Steve Schmidt pointed out on Tuesday’s edition of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the administration has tried to lie in every single instance Russia has been brought up.
“The truth of the matter is, and I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, 100 percent of the time, 100 percent of the people around this administration, when asked a question about Russia, the Russian involvement in this election, they lie about it,” Schmidt said. “Not 99 percent of the time, not 99.9 percent of the time — 100 percent of the time.”