There were two takeaways from Thursday’s press conference with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The lesser one was that he had planned to recuse himself from any campaign investigations prior to this latest revelation that he met with the Russian ambassador twice. The more important takeaway was a bombshell.
Then-Senator Jeff Sessions was questioned by Senator Al Franken during the confirmation hearings about a story being floated – based on a leak – that Trump campaign officials were in continuous communication with the Russians. That was brand new information.
Senator Sessions was obviously taken aback at the time the question was asked. No one knew about this latest likely fake “bombshell” beforehand. He was directly answering a question specifically asking about what he would do if it turns out Trump surrogates had constant communication with Russian intermediaries.
Senator Franken did not ask Sessions if he had contact with the Russians as a surrogate of the Trump campaign. He asked what he would do if it were true:
“‘CNN has just published a story, and I’m telling you this about a new story that’s just been published. I’m not expecting you to know [haha] whether or not it’s true or not, but CNN just published a story alleging the intelligence community provided documents to the President-elect last week that included information that ‘Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump’. These documents also allegedly stated ‘there was continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.’ Now again, I’m telling you this as it’s coming out…so…uh…you know. But if it’s true it’s obviously extremely serious and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”
As a sidenote, the documents Franken referred to were the so-called dossier provided to the FBI by Senator McCain, a neverTrumper, and compiled by an operative for the Clinton campaign and, later, the neverTrumpers. It has been debunked as much as it can be without having access to Russian intelligence.
“Senator Franken,” Senator Sessions said, “I am not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign, I did not have communications with the Russians and I am not able to comment on it.”
The media has reported it out of context. They say that when Franken asked, he responded that he “did not have communications”. The context was omitted.
The question and the answer during his confirmation hearings, and the AG’s explanation at the presser Thursday, seems to confirm that Jeff Sessions interpreted the question as asking if he was coordinating with the Russians and the campaign.
The meetings he had with the Russian ambassador included one huge gaggle of fifty ambassadors and is rather meaningless. The other meeting took place in his office and he had three witnesses – staff members who were present, two were retired Army colonels. That meeting he said was part of his role as a member of the Senate Armed Services committee.
The media reported, most notably, The Washington Post, that no other members of the Armed Services Committee met with the Russian ambassador. One of those nays had to change her tune when it was revealed that she did indeed meet with him. That was Senator Claire McCaskill. How many others did as well?
There is no big deal about meeting with a Russian ambassador.
This entire story is another diversion with no substance. Should he have remembered, should he have said something later on — that’s for the reader to decide. Listen to the video clip.
Attorney Sessions will be on Tucker’s show this evening and those questions will undoubtedly be asked.
The timing of this latest, illegal leak coincides with Trump’s well-received and brilliant joint address to Congress. He had a good day and then this came out.
A Fox News poll found that the majority of voters want the politicians to move on from the Russia story.
Here is an interesting point:
— Tennessee (@TEN_GOP) March 2, 2017
Remember who did lie to Congress.
— Νia (@nia4_trump) March 2, 2017