Ses­sions was aware of Trump, Rus­sia con­tact

Irish Examiner - - World News - Sarah N Lynch

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.”


Pic­ture: AP

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