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Jeff Sessions just can’t keep his stories straight

Jeff Sessions just can't keep his stories straight

by digby

Sessions testified before congress about the Russia investigation today. It didn't go well:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday offered a revised account of his contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign. During his confirmation hearing in January he falsely claimed he had no contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign—when he was a prominent supporter of Donald Trump—but subsequently acknowledged he had met with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States. He insisted, however, that they did discuss any campaign-related issues. Yet while testifying before the Senate judiciary committee, he switched his story again, noting that it was possible that Trump campaign positions did come up with the Russian ambassador.
Sessions spoke with Kislyak on at least three occasions: in April at a Trump foreign policy speech at Washington’s Mayflower hotel; at the Republican National Convention in July; and at an August meeting in his Senate office. But during his confirmation hearing in January he said there had been no contact between him and any Russians.
After the the Washington Post on March 1 reported Sessions’ meetings with Kislyak, Sessions said his conversations with the ambassador were cursory and related to his work as a senator, not his status as a Trump adviser. “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,” Sessions said later that month when he announced that he would recuse himself from matters relating to the FBI probe of Russian interference in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

In June, appearing before the Senate intelligence committee, Sessions altered his story again, saying, “I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”

On Wednesday, when Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) pressed Sessions on his contacts with Kislyak, the attorney general once more shifted his account, leaving open the possibility that campaign-related matters may have arisen. “I don’t think there was any discussion about the details of the campaign other than it could have been in the meeting in my office or at the convention that some comment was made about what Trump’s positions were,” he said. “I think that’s possible.”

Sessions also told Leahy he “did not recall” if he discussed emails—the Vermont senator seemed to be referring to the emails hackers stole from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign—with any Russian officials. Leahy, a former prosecutor, said that Sessions had shifted from issuing flat denials about the nature of his contacts with Russians to now saying that he could not recall his conversations. Leahy later told reporters that Sessions had changed his story and given “false testimony” in January.

Sessions reacted indignantly to Democrats who challenged him about his interactions with Kislyak. He accused Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who pressed Sessions to explain his shifting accounts, of treating him unfairly and “improperly framing the subject.” Sessions declined Franken’s request that he answer questions simply. “I don’t have to sit here and listen to his charges without having a chance to respond,” Sessions said. “Give me a break.”

Grassley said later in the hearing that former FBI Director James Comey in March gave a classified briefing to Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee’s top Democrat, regarding Sessions’ contacts with Kislyak. (In June the Washington Post reported that intelligence intercepts did indicate that Sessions had discussed campaign-related matters with Kislyak, who then shared this information with Moscow.) But Grassley added that the FBI has refused to share the information with other members of the committee.

Give us a break.