Sessions was aware of Trump, Russia contact
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged yesterday he was aware of contact between Donald Trump’s election campaign and Russian intermediaries, again modifying a previous statement about the extent of connections to Moscow.
The comment to a House of Representatives panel did not reveal any new link between the Trump team and Russia but it was another example of the top US law enforcement official offering a different version of events.
Mr Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee he now recalls a meeting last year with then-candidate Mr Trump where a campaign adviser said he had connections with Moscow and could help arrange a Trump meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I do now recall” the meeting where adviser George Papadopoulos made the proposal, Mr Sessions said, “but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said during the meeting.”
Mr Sessions has previously told Congress he was unaware of any Trump campaign contacts with Russia, leading Democrats to accuse him yesterday of lying under oath. “I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie,” he told the panel.
Accusations of collusion with Russia have dogged Mr Trump’s first 10 months in office. Mr Sessions’ testimony appears likely to keep the controversy over Russia boiling as special counsel Robert Mueller accelerates his investigation into possible collusion. Mr Sessions faced tough questioning from committee Democrats yesterday.
Representative Hakeem Jeffries accused Mr Sessions of hypocrisy, saying Mr Sessions, while he was a US attorney, had prosecuted a police officer for perjury after the officer corrected his testimony. “The attorney general of the United States should not be held to a different standard than the young police officer whose life you ruined,” Mr Jefferies said.
That prompted an angry backlash from Mr Sessions. “Nobody! Nobody — not you or anyone else, should be prosecuted, not me… for answering a question the way I did in this hearing. I have always tried to answer the questions fairly and accurately.”
Majority Republicans demanded that Mr Sessions appoint a second special counsel to investigate a series of issues involving Hillary Clinton. When Republican Representative Jim Jordan detailed what the controversy “looks like” to him, the attorney general responded: “‘Looks like’ is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel.”
Roy Moore: Should step aside from Senate race, says House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan.